The 'Kiss, Marry, Kill' Game: Digital Marketing Edition

As new platforms and technologies impact consumers’ path to purchase, there is a growing challenge to identify new strategies to drive sales and deliver true return on ad spend in the changing digital landscape. 

After speaking with marketers about some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry, I see that many of them appear to be playing a version of the classic game of “kiss, marry, kill” when it comes to making strategic decisions about their brand, audience and measurement.

Marketers want to kiss the cheek—as in the European greeting—of the real people buying their brands. A people-based approach that links registered user data with behavioral insights ultimately provides marketers with a singular view of who their customers actually are—rather than outdated methods that rely on proxies such as the cookie.

Besides reducing ad spend, the hidden benefit of a targeted campaign is that sometimes behaviors are revealed that differ from marketers’ expectations of their target audience. CMOs often get caught up in the flashy campaigns aimed at the audiences they want to target, rather than the people who would actually use their product. As a recent report from Wall Street analyst Brian Wieser pointed out, “a significant share of spending on advertising occurs simply because it is perceived to be effective.”



Take for instance, a big-budget TV campaign we executed during the holiday season for a jewelry brand. Ads were first run across Sunday night football programming, targeting male viewers who hadn’t yet purchased a holiday gift for their significant other. Simultaneously, ads were also run across classic holiday movie re-runs. A/B testing quickly revealed that the first impressions marketers have on their audience don’t always lead to the most cost-effective targeting … let’s hear it for Home Alone!

Marketers want to marry  media directly to sales, and understand how marketing initiatives move product. While our jewelry brand campaign showed Sunday Night Football resulted in more conversions (based on number of people watching), the commercials during Home Alone re-runs generated higher ROAS and were more effective and cost efficient (they were only 5% the cost of the football stations). When marketers move past preconceived notions of effective audience targeting strategies, and utilize data-driven insights that combine both online and offline data, they have a huge opportunity to increase campaign performance and exceed their own KPIs.

Marketers want to kill  the noise and get past industry buzzwords. Cutting down on complexity, waste and fraud while making smart investments with their ad spend, high-quality audience data, brand-safe inventory, and reporting that shows a measurable impact on the bottom line are top priorities.

Voice activation and artificial intelligence are some of the biggest buzzwords floating around this year, but for marketers to move past the hype and plan for activation, they need to determine how these technologies enable hyper-personalization of creative while increasing reach, and if they are even scalable.

As consumer touchpoints continue to expand, marketers have to broaden their skill set to better understand their customer base and maximize their impact across all devices. The marketers that effectively revaluate targeting and measurement tactics while putting less focus on outdated metrics such as click-through rate and more focus on creating high-quality engagements with consumers will be the ones who win the game.

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