As online advertising continues its meteoric rise, with digital spend growing 16.4% last year to reach over £8 billion in total, digital now accounts for more than half of all UK media ad spend. But is this growth sustainable given the current state of the industry? Nick Welch, Business Development Director, ADmantX, looks at how advertisers can make better sense of audience data.
Digital advertising has rapidly evolved within a purely profit-led model with advertisers determined to achieve the lowest CPMs and publishers focused on maximising ad revenues – often neglecting the consumers at the heart of the ecosystem. The industry is failing to understand online audiences, to address consumer choice and need, and to provide a worthwhile user experience. This has not gone unnoticed by consumers as is demonstrated in the steep rise in ad blocker usage – the only weapon in a consumer’s arsenal – and which are now used by 22% of online adults.
Ad blocking is a wake up call to the digital advertising industry highlighting that more needs to be done to re-balance the ecosystem and create a consumer-centric experience. Advertisers, marketers and brands must take immediate action to get better acquainted with their audiences.
Personalisation is the new baseline
Personalisation used to be a clever tactic to impress the digital user but today it is a basic expectation. Consumers are accustomed to receiving recommendations based on previous purchases, discount vouchers relevant to their demographic group, and special offers tailored by location. They expect brands to remember all interactions with them – regardless of channel – and to use these to create relevant, meaningful experiences.
Given the granularity of the consumer data now available, achieving this basic level of personalisation is a realistic goal. But all too often brands are overwhelmed by floods of first-party data and don’t know how to turn it into actionable user insight – instead serving up the same generic ad campaigns to mass audiences which only fuels consumer dissatisfaction.
Taking control of the data deluge
To rise to the personalisation challenge, brands must take control of their first-party data, using it to gain enhanced audience understanding. Fortunately smart technologies such as first-party advanced profiling are now available to facilitate the sophisticated analysis required for this process. Using techniques such as advanced semantic analysis and behavioural analytics, first-party advanced profiling allows advertisers to enrich customer data and create highly detailed, actionable 360-degree profiles of existing customers, understanding what interests them and how they consume online content. Armed with these insights, brands can target specific audience segments with personalised creative messaging, putting a relevant and engaging consumer experience at the centre of their advertising strategies.
Predicting customer needs is the ultimate goal
Once advertisers have a handle on their first-party data and a deeper understanding of their existing customers, they can take it one step further by predicting future wants and needs. As smart technologies process ever-growing volumes of first-party data they become increasingly intelligent in forecasting future behaviour and determining a consumer’s propensity to interact with a message or offer – and ultimately make a purchase.
By getting ahead of real-time and anticipating consumer needs, advertisers can deliver a surprising and relevant experience without being intrusive, proactively offering products or services consumers already have the propensity to buy. With brands taking on the role of trusted advisor, this will result in better customer relationships as well as increased sales. Using smart technologies, advertisers can create profiles not just of existing customers but also of future customers, delivering highly relevant messaging that resonates with these specific segments.
Quick action is needed if we are to address customer dissatisfaction with the online ad experience and sustain the growth of digital advertising. Consumers – rather than profits – must be at the heart of online campaigns. Through the use of innovative smart technologies, advertisers can make the most of their data to deliver relevant, personalised experiences that meet the consumers’ current and future needs.
There’s data, data everywhere – so let’s use it to get to know what really interests our audiences.
By Nick Welch
Business Development Director