Three Ways to Use Targeting and Technology to Make Useful Ads

Respect, Engage and Connect With Consumers, and They'll Respond

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Ask any marketer, and I bet they'll tell you that the abundance of media and ad choices they enjoy today -- the sheer breadth of their arsenal -- is as much a curse as a blessing. Simple, one-size solutions don't exist anymore. And in an era where consumers wield the lion's share of power in such a diffuse media landscape, the onus rests on brands to find new ways to create meaningful relationships with their customers.

Consumers no longer have patience for advertising that doesn't inform or delight. They don't need to. The same technologies that bring content to audiences anywhere and anytime often allow those same audiences to skip, block, and opt-out of the advertising that pays their freight. Learned behaviors keep evolving as users get better at blocking our messages. This leaves brands pushing harder and harder to measure and improve ad viewability and work around still-pervasive banner blindness.

The challenge is there for even the savviest marketer, but so is an enormous opportunity: to produce advertising that respects, engages, and connects with consumers. Advertising in the interest of the consumer.

Here are three ways that marketers can leverage the opportunities of our still-evolving world to engage people and capture their diminishing attention:

Respect Consumers. The emphasis on user experience comes in and out of vogue, and one place we need to revisit it is video. Video is on the rise -- content and ad plays are skyrocketing -- and there's a ton of momentum for brands to leverage. Users want to see video advertising that 's relevant to the content they're viewing, puts them in control with user initiation and enables choice about when and how to engage. Ads that can put the user's needs first will be able to deliver on the true promise of digital advertising: accountability and engagement.

Engage Consumers. Consumers actually don't mind advertising that 's useful to them, and marketers and agency heads are starting to understand this. The way to build a relationship with today's consumers is to align your brand with their needs, and by serving a value-add message, rather than simply an ad message. Jeep did this last year when it served real-time, dynamic local weather reports inside its display-ad units. Warner Bros. forged a new path for entertainment marketing with Machinima's incredible Mortal Kombat series. Lots of brands are exploring the potential of such "native" ads and liking the results.

Connect with Consumers. Where there's complexity there's the opportunity to find the best mix of solutions. Brands need to meet the users on platforms that matter to them most. This might mean rolling out a new product on television (still a great partner for digital), using display innovations like in-image and video to meet users in their area of interest and exploring branded content. It also means being viewable and relevant in the edit well where attention is focused. Don't expect one solution to reach all audiences, but a smart mix that makes sense for your brand. Your audiences will deliver the results.

Respect, engage, connect. Campaigns that can accomplish these three tasks -- a tall order to be sure -- will leave a lasting impression with consumers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cella Irvine is CEO of Vibrant Media and former CEO of The New York Times Co.'s About Group.
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