Marketing has never been more competitive. Today's consumers enjoy content across a variety of devices and channels. They browse social media on their smartphone, read articles on their laptop and stream shows on TV. No matter which option they choose, there's a good chance they'll run into multiple advertisements along this journey.
Understanding your audience and each channel can help attract attention in this steady stream of stimulation. We spoke with Paul Martecchini, senior vice president of global marketing for Connexity, a consumer analytics provider, about how good use of data can help.
How can data help marketers stand out?
Many brands use data to identify the right audiences and tailor their creative messaging to resonate with the individual consumer. At its best, data can empower marketers to discover new audiences and reach them at the right time with the perfect message.
The fact is, the possibilities of data-driven marketing have yet to meet reality.
Although more data is available to marketers than ever before — whether it's a brand's own first-party Web site and customer data, or data that can be purchased from third parties — many marketers find themselves drowning in this sea of information.
Connecting the dots between your audience data and actual marketing campaigns is extremely challenging. It requires a combination of in-house talent, depth of experience and proprietary software. This takes many years to develop.
Finding the people with the right experience required to pull it off is a time-consuming and expensive process. Plus the modeling technology takes time to build and then requires extensive iteration to optimize.
How does programmatic play into this?
In recent years, companies have sought to leverage their data by using programmatic advertising, an automated ad-bidding technology that allows brands to reach specific groups of customers across a range of Web sites.
The goal is to combine data with software to run targeted campaigns, allowing brands to optimize their media spending by seeking out a relevant target audience and advertising to them at a reasonable cost.
Many businesses still struggle to use programmatic effectively.
What do you see marketers doing wrong?
For starters, marketers often target demographic audiences that are not precise enough to truly optimize their spending. If you do not have observed first-party data showing you have buyers outside your traditional target audience, you could miss a substantial number of potential buyers.
What’s an example?
Say your company manufactures diapers. You might think it's a good idea to target parents — even though the data shows that 40% of all baby products are actually sold to households without children. That could be as gifts or from other groups that are not marketed — such as older folks using baby lotion.
The point is you need the data to define what really works, not make assumptions based on generic demographics.
Here’s another example. A sporting goods manufacturer might have data that suggests it should advertise a specific tennis racket to male sports fans between the ages of 18 and 35. While these parameters are better than nothing, such a broad audience guarantees the company will waste a great deal of money advertising on sports sites its customers never visit, or to consumers who just bought a new racket earlier in the year.
How do you solve this?
If you don’t have the right technology in-house, you need to find the right partners to get the information necessary to determine which people are truly in their target audience, where those people spend their time and when they will be ready to make a purchase.
How do the insights make it into the ad buying process?
Learning more about your customers is imperative, but great audience insights won't help you if they are siloed from the media planning teams or technologies used to make programmatic ad buys.
Until a company's audience insights and audience activation efforts are smoothly interwoven, it will remain a challenge for marketers to reach the right audience segments on a real-time basis.
In the future, smart marketers will combine data about where Web site visitors have arrived from, what keywords they search for to reach sites, and what device they used, with demographics and consumer survey data to finally bring together audience discovery and programmatic targeting.