Commentary

Target Consumers Around Specific Needs, Get Real About Real-Time Marketing

Ric Elert, president of Conversant, a provider of personalized digital marketing, projected changes in targeting in 2017.

For one, he said that more marketers will target consumers based on what they need versus around a specific time or season of the year.

For example, consumers taking a week-long trip to Boston use their credit card to book the trip. A hotel chain can use that trigger to send a targeted message offering a free night if they book their trip with that hotel chain.

“Brands that take a continuous, rather than episodic, view of consumers will have the biggest advantage here, as they’ll have a more complete understanding of the people they’re targeting and their actual needs as they surface. This approach provides infinitely more opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers and build real relationships with them,” Elert said.

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Elert also projected that ad fraud will face its day of reckoning in 2017. We’ve all heard that fraud follows the money. Unfortunately, money is still being poured into fraudulent digital advertising because brands are still looking at vanity metrics, like clicks, as campaign success.”

Elert said brands will get smarter and take a tougher stand against ad fraud once they have a true understanding about the negative impact it’s having: wasted ad dollars and distorted brand perceptions. "Brands will begin to measure incrementally, which will help them catch fraud early in the process.”

Kurt Hawks, SVP of cross-device & video at Conversant, also sounded off about the ad fraud issue. He said that while on one hand, the industry needs to identify and filter out fraudulent traffic, on the other, there’s a need to “reconcile the increased fragmentation of consumer attention and action across devices/channels. There are various KPIs [key performance indicators] and proxy metrics that have guided brands until now.”

Hawks said there will be a renewed focus on tying all marketing activities to actual revenue, with a special effort to tie online events to offline purchases, particularly for retailers. Marketers “will need to analyze the incremental return on these efforts, with ‘test and control’ methodologies emerging as a leading approach to omnichannel measurement.”

Hawks also said that marketing will need to become conversational: “We can message consumers in all types of new ways, but it has to be done responsibly. We must be smarter with targeting and media buys. Poorly targeted messages aren’t just wasted impressions--these faulty messages are disruptive, erode brand equity, and drive consumers away.

"To deliver brand experiences that are as cohesive, contextually relevant, and personalized as possible, brand messaging will need to be better informed by a solid understanding of individual consumers and delivered with a continuity of voice across devices/channels. Data unification, machine learning, artificial intellligence will become the priority as marketers shift from speaking at consumers, and towards establishing ongoing, real-time conversations with customers and prospects."

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