How to Reap the Benefits of Increasing Automation in 2017

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Everywhere you look, traditional advertising is making strides to embrace the programmatic model that digital media introduced, adopted widely and continues to champion. TV ad campaigns, for example, have become increasingly digitized, giving brands the opportunity to target multiple audience segments that watch specific shows. Throughout the media landscape, more inventory is being sold through programmatic platforms as data and automation converge. For marketers, this offers a powerful opportunity to build campaigns across multiple media channels that are people-centric versus those that are device-focused.

As an industry, we’re already moving beyond a device-focused view of the world. In fact, tying multiple devices to a single user will be the norm in 2017. In the coming year, marketers will have the chance to integrate and automate omni-channel campaigns from start to finish based on silo-busting audience insights and segments that are derived from location data. This new breed of integrated, omni-channel campaigns will also move the industry further towards a standard omni-channel KPI (key performance indicator). As this progression happens, there are a few vital things marketers should keep in mind as they look to capitalize on the coming opportunity:

1. Maintain Comparable Data Sets Across the Campaign Lifecycle

Marketers who want to take advantage of an automated, people-centric approach to advertising should make sure they use comparable and matched data sets across the campaign lifecycle. Brands will often use one tool or vendor to understand campaign planning, another to handle targeting, a third to execute the media buys and perhaps one more for measurement and analytics. It’s important to use an agnostic approach when it comes to targeting and measurement partners, and take advantage of the best solutions available in the marketplace. But marketers should be equally careful to ensure that their audience data moves through the campaign lifecycle seamlessly.

Vendors often have different definitions for what appears to be the same audience. Take, for example, “moms who shop at Costco.” What qualifies someone as a Costco shopper – visiting the store once a year or once a week? Are women with college-age children in the same audience segment as women raising infants? The gaps that can arise between audience definitions for the vendors planning the campaign, executing the media buy or measuring results can lead to misalignment and inaccurate measurement. Conversely, the more the industry can adopt people-centric profiles across different media landscapes, the less disparity we’ll see between different vendors’ data sets. The more integrated datasets become and are matched and layered onto other data sets, the more corroborated, and transferable audiences and the understanding of an individual profile can become.

2. Align on an Omni-Channel KPI for Campaign Effectiveness

As the adoption of people-centric campaigns across multiple channels continues to increase, the call for a universal KPI will grow louder as well. While omni-channel marketing has become a priority for most brands, the advertising industry still needs to unite around one metric that delivers an apples-to-apples comparison of campaign ROI between different channels. Today we have CPA, CPV and CTR (among many others) for digital ads, GRP for TV ads, and a range of separate metrics for other channels. But it’s impossible to compare the value of 1,000 clicks on a digital ad with TV viewership rates.

As brands are asked to weigh their investment in different advertising channels, marketers will need a clear way to demonstrate the comparative effectiveness of channels used individually and grouped together. Not only will this be a requirement for approving marketing budgets, it’s the only way that marketers can optimize the most effective channel mix for their unique message. Depending on the target audience and the brand, certain channels will be far more influential than others. But marketers can’t get this insight until they align on an omni-channel KPI that provides a true apples-to-apples comparison. Hint: this unified, omni-channel KPI extends further down the path-to-purchase funnel than existing metrics.

3. Leverage Location Data Throughout the Campaign Lifecycle

Location data derived from mobile devices can provide a consistent comparison metric for omni-channel marketing because a user’s device can be tied to other offline and online datasets, and it can be used throughout the campaign to optimize for effectiveness. With location data, brands can tie campaigns across different channels – TV, digital display, mobile, etc. – to a single, people-centric measure of effectiveness: physical world visitation. Tracking how many people saw an ad and how they were influenced to visit a store allows marketers to look much further down the purchase funnel than impressions, views or clicks allow.

Location data also provides more real-time, granular insight than the traditional bottom-line metric of sales data, which allows brands to leverage location-based insights to optimize marketing during the life of the campaign. Unlike purchase data, increase in foot-traffic based on location data can immediately be tied to specific audience segments and media channels, allowing marketers to get a dynamic view of which strategies are most effective. Brands can also use the context of location data to inform the content of creative campaigns, delivering messages that are uniquely tailored to consumers depending on where they are in the physical world (e.g. at a store, at home, at work) as well as their path along the customer journey and what media they have already been exposed to. This can all be exercised programmatically and traditionally, for targeting and measurement.

As we head into 2017, location data will continue to make end-to-end campaign automation centered on individuals a powerful and effective tool for marketers. By unifying previously siloed parts of the campaign lifecycle and distribution channels, marketers can unlock enormous efficiencies and greater insight. The key lies in ensuring they have the right data to support a people-centric campaign no matter what vendor or channel they are using.

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