Let's Use Data Not Just to Target Ads, but to Make Ads Better

Art Can Be Targeted to Shift With an Individual Consumer's Taste, or Even the Weather

By Published on .

The booming data and ad-tech industry has marketers focused on showing their ads to the people they consider their targets. But with the growth of automated ad buying, creative execution is sometimes overlooked in favor of standardized efficiency. So, while ads get to the right consumers, many of them are neither memorable nor engaging.

To show consumers the most valuable or rewarding or entertaining creative executions possible, marketers now need to take advantage of data there too.

We are barely scratching the surface of the information provided by the uptick of online shopping sites and consumer activity in digital arenas. Sure, this data can be applied to decide which product a banner ad winds up highlighting for different groups of consumers, but we can take it farther -- with better looking ads that create an easier and more personalized shopping experience.

Not many display ads incorporate user-level data, purchase data or assets from social media outlets in a flexible manner. An ad served could change its colors, text and formats to seamlessly match its environment. And what about customizing the ad with time, location and weather data tailored to the consumer's location? Marketers have a chance to combine seemingly disparate data sources to create a cohesive, engaging, creative message for each consumer.

Facebook is making a good attempt at creating a seamless advertising experience served programmatically. The newsfeed advertising executed on the Facebook Exchange integrates the look and feel of the rest of the site and also incorporates users' "friends" in the marketing placements to increase interest from the targeted consumers. This level of targeting and data usage may not be perfect -- it can seem intrusive -- but shaping the creative with multiple data points is a step in the right direction.

Luxury retailers could easily integrate meta-data and social data into their ads. These brands promote consumer engagement through a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Consumer- generated posts featuring these retailers are loaded with hash tags, similar to search keywords, but provided by the consumers themselves. Take those keywords to a media/targeting partner, and the brand can then segment its content, with insights into the consumer's sharing habits. A luxury retailer could drill down to the detailed level of consumers looking for #mens #wallets in a #camouflageprint, for example, and spark a retargeting effort aimed directly at those consumers, even if they haven't visited the retailer's brand site.

This shatters the opinion that display is only a realm for direct response. Brand ads can be executed on a much deeper level, offering consumers more utility than sheer awareness. For example, an auto marketer can use weather data to play up "it's a beautiful day, go for a drive" or "it's raining out, stay safe with our unique features" types of messaging. The idea is that marketers should be thinking about how they can match their creative to consumers' thinking in real time. People say you can't plan for the weather, but in programmatic advertising you can.

Good advertising is about storytelling, but online advertising has largely focused on the science and technology of delivery and not the message itself. We need to start giving the art just as much emphasis.

Skilled audience targeting gets the marketer to the consumer, but it's the creative that gets the consumer to engage back.

Christopher Hansen is president, Netmining.
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