It comes as no surprise that as traditional ad inventories continue to decline, media is increasing prices to offset the decreased volume.
As new digital channels continue to emerge, such as over-the-top (OTT) and mobile in-app, along with higher demand and lower supply, brands need to become less "Mad Men" and more "Math Men." They need to lean into analytics and data science insights for attribution support and return-on-investment insights. This means having an increased diversification of the ad and marketing spend, more reliance on first-party data and a laser focus on reducing ad fraud.
Last year, global ad spending on digital advertisements eclipsed traditional advertising offline. Although there has been a seismic shift in spending and a splintering of budgets to accommodate the number of channels to date, these channels are less effective at generating mass audience reach and engagement with consumers.
As the CEO of a data solutions company that specializes in consumer identity management, I believe brands and agencies need to further operationalize and invest in deeper data-driven insights and strategies in 2020. The three key areas of focus for media success will include linking and resolving first-party data, understanding and executing personalization in the wake of privacy regulations and combating ad fraud.
Link, unify and enhance first-party data.
A brand’s most valuable asset is its first-party data. Given tight media inventories and rising prices, I recommend brands and agencies ensure all first-party data is linked, deduplicated and resolved to a single consumer, thus yielding immense returns in terms of customer loyalty and achieving a high lifetime value.
To help develop a single, cohesive view of their consumers, many marketers use identity graphs, which integrate accurate consumer identifiers across channels and devices to create a persistent and addressable individual profile. (A number of companies, my own included, offer identity graph solutions.) This view can help identify high-performing media for improved ad spending.
Once first-party data is resolved, enhance it to increase reach through all media channels. By adding all known touch points for a consumer, such as multiple email addresses, phones and mobile ad IDs (or MAIDs), marketers can maximize consumer contactability across all channels, which provides a more cohesive omnichannel consumer experience.
After core identity information is resolved and optimized, it's important for marketers to access advanced insights into consumer behavior to optimize spend in targeting the highest performing media channels. Evaluate key characteristics, such as purchase history, demographics, lifestyles and propensities, to understand and segment key groups of consumers. This enables a data-driven approach to media selection and paves the path to identify high-scale lookalike audiences for prospect targeting and conversion.
Personalized engagement is still in its infancy for newer channels.
Once brands and agencies leverage data and analytics for lookalike audience targeting, this same data becomes a valuable resource to drive creative direction for personalized engagements, even in newer media channels such as OTT.
Companies can deliver addressable ads that offer a variety of targeted messages to different households that are watching the same content. By leveraging all identity markers and attributes within a brand’s first-party data, marketers can deliver personalized, relevant content across a splintered digital landscape for consistent cross-device messaging.
However, with deep, actionable data driving personalization, it’s important for brands to fully understand consumer privacy laws to drive meaningful, privacy-compliant engagements.
With the latest privacy laws in effect, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, and newer ones on the horizon, marketers must walk a razor-thin tightrope between delivering Amazon-like customer engagement and experiences while adhering to stricter privacy laws. With OTT and other digital channels like voice search, brands must ensure that when they have actionable intelligence at their fingertips to reach and connect with consumers, they are still cognizant that deep personalization can become creepy, which will ultimately turn off the consumer altogether.
Fraud continues to rear its ugly head.
Finally, brands must acknowledge and mitigate ad fraud more than ever. On any given day, consumers are exposed to media from countless channels. They watch the latest Netflix show on their iPad, read the New York Times on their phone, listen to the radio on their evening commute, watch the game on their CBS Direct app and more. Marketers can message across devices and make sure they reach the right people at the right times with ads that are relevant to them.
However, I've observed that many marketers have come to accept the fate and normalcy that some of their ad spend ends up as ad fraud, as more channels mean more difficulty in defeating it. Instead of reaching their best prospects with the most tantalizing material, they are, in fact, interacting with either uninterested people or, worse, bots.
To combat the ad fraud issue, marry offline identity markers in the form of name, physical address and phone numbers with digital identity markers, including email addresses, hashed email addresses and MAIDs. This helps brands create a consistent online and offline omnichannel experience and reduce ad fraud, which, in turn, allows marketers to reevaluate their media spend mix and dump fraudulent channels.
As channels continue to diversify and marketers fight for inclusion in a diminishing supply of media, ad fraud can wreak havoc on ad analytics, as fake traffic, impressions and clicks generated by bots can dramatically impact accurate measurement. And marketers who unknowingly use inaccurate, unverified data end up wasting more dollars and increase the ad fraud challenge.
In 2020, I believe the most successful marketers will focus their media efforts on linking and aligning the data within their organization and ensuring they have all online and offline touch points to create cohesive consumer engagements. It will also be key to find data-driven lookalike prospects and target them in a personalized way, as well as place an increased focus on combating ad fraud to maximize marketers' spend in this low-inventory, higher-priced media ecosystem.