Tim Webster
Tim Webster 26 July 2017

Less crap, more craft: A how to for marketers

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, once again threw down the gauntlet at Cannes Lions by promoting less crap and more craft in advertising. Of course he’s right that as an industry we should constantly be working to improve ad quality. Yet there’s a lot of pressure to transform brands for the better, embrace new platforms, and be seen as innovative. Pressure that often falls squarely on the shoulders of the CMO.

Though not the be all and end all, an essential tool to achieve a successful marketing campaign is data. Indeed, this year alone, programmatic digital display ad spending in the US is predicted to reach $32.5 billion — with nearly four of every five US digital display dollars going towards automated, data-driven advertising. But old habits die hard, so just how do we raise advertising standards and keep them high?

Format matters

By now, one thing we should all know is that audiences don’t appreciate pop-ups. You know the ones; the auto-play with music blaring out from who knows where, the hunt for the tiny ‘X’ which will free you from the distraction. Sound familiar?

Even Google is planning to block pop-ups in a bid to improve advertising and the browsing experience as a whole. There’s no denying it’s time to move on. Engaging and exciting formats are out there, and its clear brands need to start experimenting with them. More specifically, marketers should be using a combination of data and creativity to find new ways of engaging consumers; experimenting with formats to see what works for individuals and leveraging insights to inform ad campaigns.

It’s also worth keeping in mind there is no one set formula to the perfect ad - otherwise every company would be raking in the ad revenue – but there are several practices and principles that if successfully implemented concoct the best advertising cocktail.

The power of social

We live in a multi-screen era, where the average consumer will spend nearly two hours on social media daily. This translates to a total of five years and four months over a lifetime – that’s more time than we spend eating and drinking. As such, it’s one of the most valuable platforms there is for business promotion. Quantifying return on investment however, can be difficult, as social media is only one part of far broader omni-channel consumer journeys. Consequently, it’s hard for marketers to answer key campaign questions such as; which tactics and platforms are effective for particular audience segments, and where spend should be allocated?

Marketers therefore need to look at campaign measurement holistically. Instead of taking a siloed approach to performance analysis — such as measuring the effect of social media and display ads separately — they must consolidate data to produce a complete view of individual paths to purchase, and how each touchpoint affects their behavior. In this way, marketers can establish the return generated by social ads and adapt their activities to deliver better results, and experiences.

Build campaigns around your data

The insight programmatic is capable of providing into consumer data and behavior is invaluable, allowing for targeted communications and intelligent personalization. This data needs to form the basis of ad campaigns. Again, marketers need to break free from siloed working and share their data sets with agencies to ensure campaigns are developed in line with the consumer profiles being targeted.

Real-time optimization

A key challenge for CMOs above and beyond effectively analyzing campaigns is to change them based on consumers’ responses, before competitors have the chance to seize their attention.

Technology exists to optimize campaigns in real-time. Say you run a 15 second mobile ad but analytics show consumers typically only engage with it for seven seconds, machines can now adapt the creative to a scaled-back version so the brand message comes through within a shorter timeframe. Optimization technology can also analyze which versions of your ads receive the best click through rates (CTRs) or engagement metrics and increase the number of these ads going out to consumers, while cutting back on the less engaging ads to prevent against wasted ad spend.

To get the best out of campaigns, marketers should make sure they work with programmatic specialists that have the ability to perform real-time optimization. Only then can they truly understand and react to consumer preferences – gaining vital insights that can help inform subsequent campaigns.     

CMOs are under pressure to perform in an increasingly data-led marketing landscape, and navigate through a variety of tools and formats. To accurately determine ROI and gain the insights required to enhance ad experiences, marketers need to consider several issues from ad formats, to media channel and data sets, and include these in their brief to creative agencies. As all CMOs know, it is vital to ensure ad campaigns perfectly reflect their brand and engage core customers while prospecting new ones. To achieve this, it’s important to partner with services that make the most of data, effectively analyze consumer responses, and instantly adjust ads for optimal positive impact.

As Pritchard’s repeated calls to action show, there is a growing need for advertising to realize its full potential. Now is the time for marketers to leverage the tools at their disposal and become masters of their craft.

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