Here are the trends I predict will help make 2014 the year of big action.
Advertisers can now take an “audience first” approach to ad buying, re-orienting their top-level strategies to think about reaching particular customer types across multiple media and devices rather than relying on single-channel tactics.
Technology is available to execute cohesive, multichannel campaigns that allow marketers to deliver compelling content wherever their customers want to engage. The Global Digital Audience Report in October revealed that cross-channel advertising reaps significant rewards. Marketers moving from single to multichannel strategies average a 300% improvement in ROI. Consumers seeing ads in more than one channel convert at a 24% higher rate than those who see ads in just one channel.
In 2014, siloed, single-channel strategies will be in the marketer's rear-view mirror, as they have access to planning, execution, optimization and analysis across all of their marketing strategies -- from a centralized dashboard.
Personalized Consumer Journeys
An audience-first approach and consolidated view of all results across their organizations will lead marketers to think differently about the way they communicate with customers. They will integrate the technology driving the branding and acquisition stages of the sales funnel with the relationship-driven, conversion and loyalty stages. The data management platform -- the central hub for the marketer's customer data -- will drive personalized experiences across multiple marketing disciplines, such as Web, social media, CRM, email, and even search. As a result, in 2014 we will see much more personalized customer journeys that begin at first touch and are continuously optimized.
Real-time bidding already accounted for nearly a fifth of all digital display ad spending in 2013, and it is set to increase to nearly a quarter of all budgets in the upcoming year. Why? As marketers shift to audience-first thinking, purchasing advertising based on the value of the audience at that particular moment is only natural. And as the “trader” skill set becomes more prevalent, more marketers are looking to license software to do it themselves.
Programmatic for Branding
In 2014, we will see an expansion of programmatic buying's influence in the marketing department as brand marketers adopt the technology. We are already seeing them using data management platforms to better segment audiences and create customized branding communication sequences. Programmatic buying will allow access to online audiences at scale while tracking important brand KPIs such as awareness, brand, purchase intent, net promoter scores (NPS), or consumer opinion. Technologies like programmatic direct will only add to this, with high-quality, brand-safe inventory available for purchase in a premium marketplace.
Brand marketers especially appreciate the transparency that programmatic marketplaces provide, giving them true understanding of the value of these audiences at the moment the branding message is delivered. Bringing branding and acquisition together into the programmatic dashboard will have added benefits at the organizational level too, as marketers will finally have visibility across every stage of the customer journey.
When 2014 comes to a close, I expect the year to be remembered as the one where digital marketing truly matured from talking the talk to walking the walk, as we turned Big Data into big action.