By Matt Morgan, MD, tmwi , on the need for an integrated and considered approach at a time of rapid shifts in behaviour
Profound changes to our lifestyles, some of which have resulted from the pandemic, have meant that consumer journeys have changed in recent months – often beyond recognition. Many of these shifts will become permanent.
Consequently, at this challenging time, advertisers – and indeed businesses – are in need of marketing capabilities and analytics which work within this highly disrupted marketplace.
Fortunately, there are often silver linings to what may at first appear to present nothing but thorny challenges. While Google’s choice to turn its back on third-party cookies, for instance, caused mayhem amongst digital marketers when it was first announced, prior to the pandemic, a cookie-free future could in fact represent a long-term win for the industry. This is because the resulting requirement to go back to basics reminds us of important fundamentals such as the need to focus on the consumer; rather than pushing brand messages out in the easiest possible way.
Similarly, more recent developments are welcome in that they serve as a nudge – if not a shove – towards innovation, based on careful thought and genuine creativity – disciplines which have, at times, been neglected. When audience behaviour and desires shift, as they have done, then so should our marketing approaches.
It’s about time, too. The rise of ad-blockers is just one symptom of a wider malaise; a sign of the need to discard lazy techniques, in favour of approaches that are less intrusive, and more innovative and consensual. And so, with the withdrawal of third-party cookies acting as a timely reminder that advertising needs to work for consumers, if it is to work for anyone else, the work needed to build approaches in the context of a ‘new normal’ will take time.
And yet, there is no need to fear – assuming some key steps are taken.
Prioritise first-party data
First and foremost, brands must leverage their first-party data. If your audience doesn’t trust you, this will prove difficult – if not impossible. Direct interactions with customers will become more important while those fostering rich, mutually beneficial relationships will have much to gain.
Second, the context of ad placements will undoubtedly become even more important. In order to place advertising in the right location, at the right time, a holistic, integrated approach is needed. Brands will need to engage with customers more effectively and more natively – wherever they are – with formats that blend in rather than intrude.
Take an omnichannel approach
The future of marketing will be even more omnichannel. Time and time again, multi-pronged and multi-media campaigns have been proven t perform better. Whether across display, OOH, or audio, for instance, an integrated approach – emerging from a holistic view of audiences, and leveraging bespoke formats for specific journeys – can have enormous impact, thanks to the range of technologies and creative options available today.
Tailor content according to platform
At every touchpoint, it is important that content is relevant and tailored. This means creating bespoke formats for specific journeys, and designing creative specifically for each platform. Content built for one platform will not necessarily work for the next.
Don’t cut corners when it comes to creativity
Certainly, in this new world, creativity is needed more than ever in order for brands to cut through. Marketers must endeavour to understand their audiences and market to them with respect as well as imagination. While this new digital landscape offers great opportunities as well as challenges, the core principles of marketing remain the same: Know your customers, and speak to them in ways they appreciate.
Leverage technology to generate efficiencies
With automation helping to optimise the media buying process in real-time, a data-driven approach helps to ensure campaigns have impact, across any device. But, to achieve this, it’s important to knock down the silos of specialism to create a holistic view. Then, when data sources are integrated and linked to marketing activation, often in real time, brands can see significant increases in ROI.
We are currently living through an opportunity to create a new digital world, one in which marketing’s priorities have shifted to first-party data strategies and the creation of trusted networks. This will help to rebuild consumer trust in advertising – offering those in the industry a unique opportunity to nurture a sustainable digital ecosystem in which the right people are fairly compensated for the value they create. It’s time marketers embraced this and worked to reset the rules of engagement for a digital ecosystem which works well for businesses and consumers alike.