The digital marketing landscape is in the midst of a revolution. Media can now be purchased and optimized in real-time.
We’ve shifted from segmenting publishers into channels to targeting specific audiences across multiple devices and being able to attribute the conversion to each touch point along the customer’s journey. We’ve evolved from having very little insight into our ad impressions to having ad verification and viewability tools that confirm the right users are seeing and engaging with our ads.
We’re now able to replace static one-size-fits-all websites with dynamically generated content relevant to each unique user. The common denominator to this digital revolution has been the continued evolution of leveraging data to drive marketing performance. Read on for a baker’ dozen data-driven techniques that aim to boost your digital marketing effectiveness and ROI.
Programmatic buying—an automated, algorithmic method of buying and purchasing digital media in real time—has upended the old model of buying media that relied on lengthy, expensive, and often-inflexible commitments to specific sites and placements. According to eMarketer, more than two-thirds of all digital display advertising in 2016 will be purchased programmatically.
Along with introducing a more efficient media buying workflow, programmatic buying has allowed advertisers to improve the quality and availability of data used in planning, buying, and targeting. Advertisers can engage a combination of first-, second- and third-party data sources in order to enhance targeting precision and scale.
Likewise, programmatic buying has allowed the planning process to become more iterative. As there are no upfront commitments and budgets are adjustable, the time and cost of testing and optimization has fallen significantly.
Are real prospects seeing and clicking on your ads? Over the last several years, more and more marketers have taken steps to ensure that their digital ads are actually being served and clicked as reported by publishers and ad platforms.
While many ad serving platforms offer their own verification tools, the “trust but verify” strategy provides marketers the greatest peace of mind: Rely on a third party for ad verification. And even if your organization isn’t ready to invest in a third party, it’s wise to confirm the verification tools and tactics used by partners and platforms in order to ensure your ads are working as promised.
Display advertising has traditionally been measured and paid for in an “impressions served” model—i.e., when the ad loads, you pay for the impression. But can you be sure these impressions are actually being seen by users?
For video ads, the question of viewability is especially tricky. You have to account not only for how much of the video player is in view, but also how much of the video itself was viewed. The Media Rating Council’s guidelines count a video ad as viewed when at least 50% of the ad is visible for two consecutive seconds (versus just one second for traditional display ads).
Are you willing to pay for video ad impressions if the player is half out of view and the user sees only two seconds of the ad? If not, what steps are you taking to ensure that your ads are really being seen?
Website Personalization And Dynamic Creative
Each website, mobile app, or ad with which your users interact actually consists of dozens of individual visual elements, all of which can now be delivered to the user dynamically. Each of these dynamically delivered elements presents an opportunity for the savvy marketer to personalize the content to the user.
Just as we leverage user data to inform our programmatic buying decisions, we also engage user data to personalize the type of ad, website, or app content displayed.
Using the data we’ve collected about the user—such as their browsing history, demographic data, site interactions, and potentially additional attributes generated by a DMP—we can present offers, language, and imagery that will resonate with each visitor. In a world in which users are frequently bombarded by less-than-relevant content, delivering a personalized experience often helps to guide them more efficiently through the conversion funnel.
Cross-Device And Cross-Channel Insights
Mobile devices continue to play a greater role in customers’ conversion paths and, by extension, in effective digital marketing plans. For example, eMarketer estimates that mobile has passed up desktop as Google’s top device driver of ad revenues. This shift demonstrates that your target customers are likely using a blend of desktop and mobile activity across multiple channels to make their conversion decisions.
Cross-device tracking has challenged the traditional cookie-based tracking method, given that cookies are device-based. In response, new solutions identify specific users in other ways. The correct mix of these marketing technology tools and tactics enables marketers to stitch together user activity across devices and channels, creating a single, unified customer view that makes media dollars work as hard as possible.
According to eMarketer, the average U.S. adult spends more time on a mobile device each day than on a desktop. As many as 25% of people use three or more devices per day, and more than 40% “cross devices” during the conversion process. This device-switching activity stands in stark contrast to the capabilities of standard web cookies, which have limited accuracy in tracking cross-device activity.
Cue the rise of people-based measurement, which represents a revolution in the way advertisers measure interactive engagement and target users across multiple devices. People-based measurement relies on unique identifiers, rather than web cookies, to distinguish and measure users across multiple device touchpoints. In addition to more accurately measuring conversion, people-based measurement enables advertisers to understand ROI by device/channel, obtain accurate reach and frequency measurement, and tie offline conversions to online interactions.
Marketers understand—anecdotally, anyway—that there’s more than just that one touch point in most customers’ paths to conversion. So why are so many businesses still measuring performance using the outdated “last click” model? Transitioning to a more sophisticated model can seem complex and time-consuming, but thanks to advancements in web analytics platforms, a variety of attribution models are available at the click of a button.
But what about the impact of ad impressions? Simply seeing ads (even if they go unclicked) certainly can help build awareness and can play a role in the conversion path. As with click tracking, there are a variety of tools and methods available to attribute conversion value back to viewed ad impressions. These “view-through conversions” make it easy to isolate the role and relevance of the ad impression itself.