Working in digital advertising, we live and die in the world of data – whether its performance results, data integrity, data manipulation, data data data….
So, I ask myself what does this really mean?
Regardless of campaign goals, every digital advertiser is referring to branding, direct response, or some type of “hybrid” campaign (which really translates into direct response “light”), and measuring the results based on data. This requires a lot of segmented decision-making. Advertising campaigns can be siloed in a variety of ways, but often are categorized by media channel, such as SEM, display, co-reg, affiliate, advertorials, social, etc.
So many times have I heard feedback that, “display isn’t effective” or “this vendor doesn’t work.” Those are only pieces of the puzzle. My advice is that the client should really take a giant step back, and look at understanding and defining what the goal of the marketing campaign is, as a whole.
A true marketing campaign is holistic in nature. There is similarity, and consequently familiarity, among each interaction the user has with the brand. From a holistic standpoint, there is some type of continuity in messaging, look & feel, environment, and navigability.
Many times a media buy “ doesn’t work” because the elements of the media buy are measured in silos and the true goal of the marketing campaign falls to the wayside. At the inception of a marketing campaign, the overarching goals should be clearly defined BEFORE ads are placed. After the goals are laid out, then the marketing tactics should be addressed – the means as to where, when and how to execute the needed tactical elements.
Let’s start with WHERE – where should the media be placed – which channels? First and foremost, knowing the characteristics, i.e. demographic make-up and physical location, along with the behavior of your target audience, will enable you to determine where to play most effectively. For example, search is always where advertisers want to have a presence. It is the best quality online media because you are putting your message in front of users who are raising their hand for your product or service. Display on the other hand is a great vehicle for increasing awareness and creating the need, similar to how offline media buys can create or increase the demand for a particular product or service. The beauty of display is that while you are playing in a huge universe that may seem daunting, you can target your ads based on your customers demographics, behaviors… or even both!
So yes – display in a silo may not “work,” the way you would like it to, but it does play an integral part of a holistic marketing campaign, even if it doesn’t get credit as the converting source. Another important element in your holistic marketing campaign is social media. Consumers are intelligent! They research, read reviews, ask their friends so please do not forget the immeasurable social media elements which intuitively absolutely play a critical part of your marketing campaign.
The next marketing element to think about is WHEN. Is your campaign seasonal, long term, short lived, does time of day play a part, etc.? Also take into account what other offline elements are active in your marketing campaign. If you are running TV ads, then you should have a search presence during that time. If your target demographic consumes digital media late at night, then you may want to consider an increased presence or a more aggressive presence during those hours. You need to be present at the time your consumers are engaging media and you need to be in front of them.
Last but not least, think about HOW to execute. I always stress consistency across all digital creative elements to eliminate any chance of user confusion as to what you are offering. Creative elements to think about – look & feel, layout, offer, navigation, and path. I am a huge advocate of always testing creative elements to improve user experience, but testing huge changes in all creative components at once just causes confusion. Define what your initial creative will be and then develop a systematic and methodical testing approach to refine.
In developing a marketing campaign, keep the overarching goal of that marketing campaign in mind and then determine how to execute against it. Avoid the common mistake of just throwing ads up on various networks and in search, and then wondering “why it didn’t work,” or claiming the failure of the campaign on poor planning and execution. Take the time up front to plan so that the implementation should not only be fun, but also be a success!