With this week's announcement of Facebook making its inventory available through Nasdaq-like real-time bidding, we have a sign of the things to come. With 25% of the web's page views, and the prospect of integrating social into the whole marketing funnel as opposed to existing solely outside of it, Facebook entering programmatic buying portends much.
First and foremost, it portends that the consumer is paramount.
Consumer behavior has changed rapidly – far faster than the marketer's business process has been able to adapt to.
Consumers engage with brands through multiple media channels – display, video, social, mobile, search – are all simply digital touchpoints that can potentially connect a marketer to its customers and prospects in real-time.
The consumer doesn't think about channels – whether an ad is a banner, or an email, or a sponsored post. Those distinctions are a legacy of the media buying process, itself a process developed decades ago in many cases, where TV buying required radically different approaches than running a print ad or sending a targeted offer via traditional mail. Digital mirrored traditional, with specialized teams required to handle each channel. This has led to fragmentation and a reliance on blasting messages out to consumers regardless of interest.
Second, technology has normalized and automated process across channels. Display isn't about cookies and clicks; social isn't about APIs and Likes; mobile isn't waiting for marketers to catch up to iPad sales. Publishers cannot rely on the insertion order alone to thrive in a connected marketing ecosystem.
And finally, math has allowed smart decisions to be made while relying solely on anonymous data. Billions of impressions cannot be managed by hand – models must be used to make sense of them.
Through the demand-side platform, the marketer and its agencies can connect to millions of consumers in a seamless and integrated way, allowing the traditional schism of brand and direct response, of advertising and CRM, of silo-by -silo media planning and buying and paid-earned-owned distinctions disappear.
We are about to enter a new age of marketing:
- Consumers can be communicated with consistently across their engagement with a brand, across channels, according to their preferences as well as based on their "value."
- Major publishers can move beyond the notion of the insertion order and that dollars automatically follow eyeballs will result in success.
- Inputs can be connected to outcomes directly. The marketer and agency can understand which investments produce real results.
- The modern marketing professional, empowered with the right tools, can spend time thinking instead of simply doing.
It will be a transformative time, but those people and those organizations that can put consumers and results first, will find themselves part of a revolution in marketing that is for the only time in decades a difference in kind, not degree.