In 2013, a survey of 1,000 CMOs showed that 76% agreed the title had changed more in the previous two years than in the preceding 50.
If you asked those same executives about the two years after that, I would bet that most would say they just went through another half-century’s worth of upheavals. That’s because in technology, change doesn’t happen incrementally.
In the advertising industry, we don’t see these changes day to day all that much. Instead, technologies like programmatic become part of the environment and you begin to take for granted that data-driven targeting has made your marketing spend more efficient. At the same time, the growing complexity slowly engulfs you.
That’s where our brains often get stuck. However, I’d like to take the long view now and suggest that we’re just at the beginning of a new advertising renaissance in which all these steady incremental improvements are leading to a more unified view of the customer and ultimately more fruitful interactions.
It’s Early Days in Programmatic
Last year, for the first time, programmatic accounted for the majority of digital display ad spending, according to eMarketer, which estimates that by 2017, 75% of such spending will be programmatic.
While that’s a victory for those of us who have been pushing programmatic for years, complexity remains the norm. Consumers spend most of their time on mobile devices these days and getting a consistent view of a customer who flits between her smartphone, desktop, connect TV and tablet is tricky. To complicate things further, IoT devices like Nest, Amazon Echo and smart appliances are just hitting the market.
A Unified View of the Customer
The good news is that, in the aggregate, all of these devices provide a detailed vision of the consumer. We all know though, that this is not the reality in the marketplace. As consumers, we are bombarded with the same ads on desktop and mobile with no rhyme or reason. Ideally, a series of marketing messages with a consumer should be like a conversation. When we keep having the same initial conversation on a battery of different devices, consumers justifiably get annoyed.
For marketers, the attempt to gain a unified view of the customer is also frustrating. Instead of dealing with one partner that creates a single solution, they are confronted with specialists with point solutions, which creates confusion and, ultimately, redundancy and waste.
Unlocking Value with Data
The solution to this problem is a centralized data management platform where brands can work with their agencies and tech partners to refine targeting and move away from a generalized approach aimed at groups to one that’s truly directed at eliciting one-to-one conversations.
Agencies and brands can work together to not only mine data, but to create content that elicits even more data to discern consumer preferences at a granular level. For instance, Kraft Heinz has more than 3 million recipe interactions a day. That tells the company a lot more about its customers and their specific needs and desires than standard advertising would.
Programmatic is key to unlocking those insights though because in order to prompt those interactions, Kraft Heinz has to distribute that content in the right place and at the right moment. This creates a virtuous circle in which better targeting prompts better data.
As this example demonstrates, programmatic is about more than just advertising. It’s about managing interactions with consumers and being able to assess what worked and what didn’t.
The end result is that marketers are better able to manage moments with their consumers on any device in the smartest way possible.
A Partnership Model
This vision depends on fostering a partnership model. Though there has been some tension between agencies and technology companies, especially as relationships with trading desks shift and more brands seek direct connections to their technology. I think it’s the agencies’ role to suss out the technology on behalf of marketers and those who do so are going to win.
Very few brands will ultimately bring programmatic technology completely in house, but most brands will bring some aspect in house. The triumvirate of brand, agency and tech firm is required to thrive in this complex environment in which it’s easy to get lost in the complexity. I have a lot of faith that the rewards will be great for those that are able to navigate this rapidly changing environment.
For more on Bruce and Turn’s view on the development of insights-driven marketing, download a free eBook here.
[a version of this article appeared in Digiday]
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