Marketing has changed dramatically over the past five years, driven by changes in consumer behaviour and advances in technology. During this period, marketing budgets have been growing and are set to increase again in 2016, of which a large percentage will be allocated to digital advertising.
Our industry is growing and generating an abundance of data. Adding to this, the emergence of new performance metrics is making the measurement of the ROI of digital marketing spend more reliable and accountable than traditional measurements associated with print and television advertising. Unlike traditional advertising channels, it is possible to review and adapt digital campaigns in real-time and ensure budgets are optimised. This allows brands to trial creatives and take more risks in an effort to cut through the mass of advertising consumers are presented with every day, without committing to large upfront media buying outlays.
The increase in digital marketing activity has resulted in an avalanche of data — 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. This wealth of data provides marketing professionals with an advantage – but also an analysis challenge — when it comes to understanding their target market. Harnessing data to gain actionable insight will prove key to marketers’ success in 2016. Using insights into their customers’ online behaviours, marketers should focus on the following five areas to produce and measure results during the coming year.
- The need to demonstrate ROI
Research by ZenithOptimedia shows that by 2017 the internet will be the biggest advertising medium in 12 key markets, which together represent 28 per cent of global ad spend. As more brands move their budgets online, the simple economics of supply and demand will come into force. Online advertising is still relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to TV, but as demand increases I expect this channel will become increasingly expensive as brands compete for consumers’ attention. If marketers are getting less for their money, there will also be increased pressure to invest in the right places. The correct metrics to measure ROI will therefore be more important to marketers than ever. Data driven insights on users’ online journeys and buying behaviour, along with monitoring the cost per engagement (CPE) of a campaign, can provide definable and actionable insights into the impact of an advertisement in a way other advertising channels can’t. The standardisation of measurement is a must for 2016, for this to happen greater transparency is required in the industry.
- Content (delivery) remains king
Marketers need to adapt to this way of thinking and develop content that reflects how their customers want to interact with brands across different channels. Designing one ad with a single creative and copy then syndicating it across multiple channels simply doesn’t work. Consumer expectations have shifted. Consumers expect a seamless experience across all touch points, that includes online and offline channels.
Content will continue to reign as king. Where, how and the way in which it is consumed will continue to evolve and marketers must ensure success by delivering it in a relevant manner. As Steve Jobs once said, we need to ‘create relevance not awareness’. Marketers need to ensure that their messages are consistent across multiple channels, this doesn’t mean the same, however. Messages need to be tailored to the channel and the consumer — for example, people consume content on social media very differently than by email — but the content needs to be on brand.
- Mobile advertising will mature
It has been predicted that mobile will account for 50 per cent of all digital ad expenditure next year, so spending money driving traffic to a website that doesn’t work on mobile is like pouring money down the drain. Brands and marketers need to be prepared for the rise of mobile and ensure that this channel is incorporated in their digital strategies. Apps play an important role, but spending budget on and solely focusing on downloads can often be a false economy — most people only use a few apps and tend to delete most shortly after downloading them. To optimise the in-app experience, marketers need to understand their customers’ online journeys, how they interact with their brand on mobile, such as movement between the mobile web and apps in order to optimise the purchase journey. In terms of delivery, content needs to be tailored for mobile consumption with adequate budget assigned to this now mainstream channel.
- Traffic sources will widen
A number of luxury brands have recently tested performance marketing campaigns. As a result of the success of these pioneers, an increasing number of luxury brands are beginning to recognise affiliate marketing as a legitimate sales channel. Affiliate programmes present a huge untapped opportunity for high end brands; during 2016, the uptake of performance marketing among these brands is set to gain in momentum.
- Online to offline
From prioritising content to investing in mobile, it’s clear that there are steps that marketers need to be planning for now. In advance of 2016, it’s vital that marketers assess the rapidly changing landscape and adapt. The clear theme that will emerge in 2016 is the importance of measuring success in digital, mobile and performance marketing, as well as the need to use data to target customers in the right way at the right time to maximise impact of digital marketing activities.
By Dan Cohen, Regional Director at Tradedoubler