Solving the Four Key Challenges of Today’s Advertisers

Posted on by Pehr Luedtke

Despite recent innovations in ad-tech, advertisers remain frustrated with their ability to reach the right consumers, at the right time, with the right offers.

To make matters worse, advertisers face an ever-shrinking window to capture consumers’ attention when the average digital ad is viewed for just 1.7 seconds. While these challenges may seem unsurmountable, there is a silver lining on the horizon. New advances in intelligent media delivery—including improvements in data accuracy, personalization, optimization and measurement—have the potential to make advertising more effective than ever before.

Here’s four solutions to help advertisers with some of their toughest challenges.

Challenge #1: Obtaining a full online-offline view of consumers.

Consumers shop online anywhere and anytime, and, because they have so many digital devices, advertisers have an opportunity to fully understand consumer behavior by looking at their cross-screen lives. This affords the promise of greater engagement based on more relevant advertising.

Unfortunately, deciphering online-offline consumer behavior isn’t feasible for the majority of advertisers today. Too many use targeting that isn’t based on real-world, comprehensive views of consumers. Worse, many overly rely on incomplete consumer profiles restricted to over-used cookie pools, retargeting profiles and syndicated data.

Solution #1: Data and platforms that reach and activate consumers across all channels.

In particular, work to capture the following key consumer data points:

  • Location Data: A consumer’s location and information about who they are and what they’re interested in, is a high priority for progressive advertisers. However, when a premium is paid for location data, fraud instances tend to spike. Advertisers should pick a highly flexible technology platform that can ingest massive amounts of data from multiple data sources and determine which data to keep and/or filter out, all while focusing on driving impact and providing real-time optimization of advertising campaigns.
  • Personalization: Tailoring messaging, channels and timing to the unique needs and preferences of each individual consumer must begin with an examination of the campaign creative to confirm it’s based on signals (such as location) that indicate status.
  • Customer Graphs: Building a view of the consumer that can update in real-time is an essential first step in establishing a long-term understanding of customers. This profile can then influence campaign activation by filtering down to the optimal channel for each individual. Customer graphs can also be leveraged to track and measure the success of ad campaigns by displaying true, in-store impact, without relying on traditional, empty online advertising metrics. 

Challenge #2: Meaningfully engage consumers to propel them to purchase.

With consumers today seeing anywhere between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements each day, breaking through requires advertisers to reach consumers in the ways they prefer. They also need to be able to fulfill consumer demand at any given moment, on any given screen and at any given place, and activate consumers by getting them into a store and inciting them to buy.

Solution #2: Intelligent media delivery that’s channel agnostic and flexible.

Media companies often have an inherent bias, focusing on an advertising channel that serves them best. The brands that rely on those firms for their advertising efforts often have disjointed campaigns (from the shopper’s point-of-view). Brands need media companies to take into consideration the consumer’s overall behavior, their holistic path to purchase, or how, when and where he/she prefers to receive brand messages and offers.

Rather than taking a biased, channel-focused route, advertisers need media that’s channel agnostic and flexible to how consumers engage. This will help advertisers:

  • Understand where consumers are on the path to purchase
  • Make a real connection with their audience at the right time
  • Create delightful experiences for their buyers
  • Deliver powerful brand messaging at scale across the channels that matter

Challenge #3: Understanding what’s moving consumers down the path to purchase.
Many advertising agencies are too focused on overall campaign measurement, rather than analyzing what combination of channel, message and/or product is successfully motivating a segment of consumers to act. Advertisers need to know not only how their campaign performed, but how it’s contributing to brand success and how the parts of each campaign (i.e. channels, messages, timing, product, etc.) are working.

Solution #3: Measurement and attribution that’s connected to the real world.

To determine what marketing levers and approaches are working (and which one’s aren’t), brands need to expand their data sources to get a 360-degree view of the customer journey. Specifically, they need to:

  • Measure how ad spend moves the revenue needle. Engagement metrics such as click-through rates won’t cut it. Brands need to understand real-world sales impact—does the ad actually drive people to a store to purchase the product?
  • Do something with the measurement data. It’s not enough to know that a campaign resulted in sales. Advertisers need to analyze the data to understand how their campaign can grow sales with the next campaign.
  • Demonstrate the value of the company’s marketing efforts. Brands need to assess foot traffic and sales spikes to understand what drives consumers to stores. Not only can they then see what’s working, but they can share that value with their retail partners.

Challenge #4: Offer value while respecting privacy.
Many advertisers have turned to data in an attempt to target high volumes of consumers in a less intrusive fashion, pulling from IoT based sources such as Google Home, Alexa, etc. However, this new available information raises serious privacy issues. In fact, leveraging such data can appear downright creepy. Worse, the way in which advertisers use this data has been overly-automated and not sufficiently personalized.

Solution #4: Accurate data to drive effective personalization

Respecting privacy, i.e. using existing data to provide relevant, personalized experiences that matter to the consumer, isn’t just an altruistic approach to marketing. Today’s consumers expect it, and brands who understand this can take a pragmatic approach to drive more relevant experiences and achieve better response via cross-channel engagement. Additionally, brands stand to realize significant improvements via in-store results.

If advertisers solve these four key challenges, they will realize immediate engagement with new consumers and deeper, longer-lasting relationships with existing ones which will result in higher sales lifts and increased market share.

Pehr Luedtke is senior vice president of marketing and international at Valassis Digital.

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