When it comes to transparent online marketing, just counting the clcikthroughs isn’t enough. Stuart Colman, Managing Director UK, AudienceScience explains why is how you interpret and integrate the consumer data that really counts…
Online advertising just grew up – and got more relevant too. Time was when it was all about reach – how many, how quickly and let’s count the clicks. But, of course, that is just too simplistic and ignores the bigger issues around actually reaching the right audience for your offer, brand engagement and the role display advertising plays in carving out familiarity in someone’s mind.
Marketers are fast moving away from simply thinking ‘we must be online and hit as many people as possible’ to ‘how can we reach, communicate with and openly engage with the right audiences in the digital space’.
Online advertising is a gift for marketers because of the wealth of information that can be used to identify, track and measure activity. But measuring for the sake of measuring, or measuring the wrong thing can squander all the value that lies untapped in your data.
So while impressions and clickthroughs are easy and quick to calculate, they cannot measure, for example, a connection between brands and their consumers or how brand-orientated advertising drives future site visits and sales. Enter the new tranche of Data Management Platforms (DMPs), which hold the key to the next exciting phase in online advertising.
What’s critical is data. It isn’t having the most data that counts; it’s having the right data and being able to integrate it effectively and understand what it is saying
The new online environment is driven by data, as advertisers seek the ability to accurately define and then reach their target audience(s) online. But as any good marketer knows, there’s no point in accumulating vast volumes of data if you can’t bring it all together and make it work in an actionable, integrated way. We now have access to more data than ever before – be it about browsers, subscribers or customers, offline or online, your own data or that from third parties. It has the ability to fuel everything we do online, yet, until recently, technology hasn’t had the ability to exploit the data opportunity in a very cohesive way.
Nothing stands still for long in the online world and recently we’ve seen the number of technology platform options explode across the marketplace. Time was when the industry simply comprised advertisers, publishers and the ad networks that represented them. Today the marketplace is no longer that linear. We have a whole online ecosystem that is diverse and developmental but also complex and mysterious to many. New categories of solutions now populate this arena, all taking small pieces of the online advertising spend pie ; from Yield Optimisers, Supply Side Platforms (SSP), Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), agency trading platforms and, with the growing demand for data to help drive targeting, entities such as Data Exchanges and Audience Targeting Platforms. Ultimately each one claims its position in helping to improve ad performance via technology and data, but the interconnections between the offerings and the seemingly endless growth of different suppliers with similar solutions is creating real confusion.
Hiding behind technology will slow down market growth
The challenge advertisers and their agencies face is getting to grips with this ever evolving technology landscape. The issue for the industry is enabling them to understand the methodology and technology behind the emerging offerings, in order to accelerate adoption and growth. The ‘black box solution’ offered by many of these new technology providers is double-edged in this respect. Yes, it makes things easy to explain to an uninitiated buyer, with ‘the less detail the better’ mantra behind it. However, as advertisers and agencies become increasingly knowledable in this area, they are looking for greater sophistication from technologies while, at the same time, wanting companies to demonstrate transparently how their technologies work. Without this, it leaves them with no real ability to compare and contrast what’s on offer, making buying decisions more difficult and, ultimately, slowing down the rate at which new technology is adopted across the board.
Crucially, when it comes to audience targeting, advertisers want to be in control how their audience is defined, rather than accept another party’s interpretation. However all too often technology companies are unable to actually demonstrate how an audience is built or explain, even at a basic level, how their targeting is derived. Many even struggle with crucial questions such as what data do they actually have, where did it come from, how old is it, does is comply with industry guidelines and have they the right to actually use it? If they are unable to answer such fundamental questions, then this should be a red light to buyers.
We are in danger here of creating a terribly complex market and, ultimately, its complexity that kills. Data and technology affords us a huge opportunity to shape the value of online advertising, identify how it is performing and its contribution to sales in order to help advertisers engage more effectively with their consumers. But we need to avoid isolating ourselves from marketers by hiding behind technologies, complexity and acronyms. Instead we need to be talking their language, creating more openness and developing relevant solutions that make their life easier, allowing them to drive successful online advertising.
By Stuart Colman
Managing Director UK