Brand marketers have met many challenges on the large platforms like Google and Facebook. With now 60% of all digital advertising going towards those two entities according to eMarketer, it’s clear that marketers have accumulated enough success to give them the confidence to feel at home. While many high-profile brands will pull back their budgets during brand safety flare-ups like the ones that have occurred on YouTube, they have, by and large, eventually returned. Essentially, brands have shown they are in business with the platforms for the long haul.
If the test-and-learn phase of the platform era is truly over with budget commitments rock solid going forward, then brands need to take the next evolutionary step in truly optimizing their platform investments—develop a big platform strategy. In order to successfully leverage the power of these platforms, brands must build their strategy and technology infrastructure in a way that is informed by the idea that the platforms are fundamentally different than traditional publishers and media companies. With this approach, brands can fully realize the potential within the platforms and increase their return on ad spend as well as other KPIs.
Defining Brand Preferences on Platforms
In this post-GDPR world of renewed privacy-first media and marketing, marketers will need to develop more nuanced and integrated strategies that combine consent-based audience targeting with more sophisticated, machine-learning-driven contextual targeting. Historically, brands have been disciplined and thoughtful about their brand preferences, which have reflected their content selection/adjacency from the beginning of digital advertising. The growth of private marketplaces coincided with brands’ growing commitment to showing up in premium content environments. With the advent of platforms, however, where content is infinite and dynamic, brands need to demand tools to maintain their high premium content standards. So when we say that marketers must go from platform budgets to a platform strategy, leveraging these tools is at the heart of it.
No Longer Grading Their Own Homework
The evolution that the big platforms are undergoing is analogous to the maturation process of superstar athletes becoming team players. It took Michael Jordan several years to figure out how to go from a once-in-a-generation basketball wizard to becoming the inspirational leader of the Chicago Bulls championship teams. Over the past few years, the platforms have made noteworthy progress with third party measurement companies like Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify allowed onto their systems to offer greater transparency to brands. This has been coupled with the platforms’ higher degree of vigilance and priority to being more responsive to flare-ups. With the continued growth of third parties and increased choice for marketers, brands no longer need to rely on platforms to grade their own homework — they can build a winning team based on what’s critical for their business.
Brands Can Build a Winning Team
Facebook and Google are facing challenges and opportunities that are marked by a high level of uncertainty. For all of these challenges, we should commend the platforms for taking a greater degree of responsibility, and enabling third-party technologies that drive value for marketers.
In addition to allowing third-party measurement firms onto their platforms, the walled gardens are also playing nice with other data & targeting technology players, who brands have grown accustomed to partnering with across most digital channels, but perhaps were not as embraced as warmly by the platforms. That has all begun to change as the platforms have made the distinction that they are content distribution and advertising marketplaces. Platforms no longer consider themselves as publishers and thus they have become more attuned to allowing brands to partner with third party data & targeting players.
The dominance of the duopoly cannot be disputed or easily dislodged as they now have Amazon nipping at their heels and data-driven television upstarts like Xandr and Hulu competing for interest. For the sake of their own continued growth, the platforms are highly incentivized to stop taking the rest of the ecosystem for granted and be more of a team player.
With a growing number of highly effective third-party data & technology providers emerging, brands should jump on this newly collaborative opportunity to enlist these partners in driving the next evolutionary stage of their marketing plans –one that is driven by a thoughtful, sophisticated and highly accountable strategy supported by a sizable budget to execute it.