Impersonal, irrelevant, and often intrusive – is it any wonder consumers are growing disillusioned with the online ad experience and increasingly turning to blockers?
Today’s audience expects personalisation as standard. Indeed, almost 50% of users expect brands to know them and tailor ads according to their needs both now, and in the future. Yet brand marketers and the service agencies they employ continue to fall short of this core requirement, despite having access to a tool that can transform ad relevance — first-party data.
While the majority of digital marketing professionals recognise the importance of first-party data, few understand how to use it effectively and build it into consumer centric strategies. If they could only unlock the potential of this under-utilised asset, marketers would be able to create a relevant and targeted experience that goes beyond simple personalisation — not only meeting consumer needs, but also exceeding them to achieve optimal engagement.
So how can first-party data be utilised to enhance the impact of digital advertising and construct campaigns that will fascinate, rather than frustrate consumers?
Raising the bar of personalisation
The ubiquity of personalisation means marketers need to do more than simply tailor their messaging using basic data signals. Serving ads for products that an individual viewed three months — or even three weeks ago — is not enough to hold their attention. Data goes out of date quickly and messages tailored to historic needs are not likely to strike the right chord with the ‘always-on’ audience.
If marketers want to retain existing customers and attract new ones, they must use advanced, first-party insight to get ahead of real time with a ‘feedback’ strategy that continues to learn, evolve, and execute. Marketers need to harness the information at their fingertips and enhance their understanding of individual activity, interests, and preferences — building a picture of each consumer that can be used to predict their needs and construct messages that deliver beyond expectations.
Using smart technology to extract insights
It’s a grand theory and marketers would be forgiven for questioning how this ‘holy grail’ of messaging can be achieved. The good news is, it’s already here. The solution lies in the power of new smart technologies that have emerged to decipher the insights within first-party data. As consumer expectations have risen, so have the abilities of marketing tools designed to meet them — the most sophisticated example being first-party advanced profiling. However, just having first-party data and targeting those users in isolation lacks strategy.
Using techniques such as advanced semantic analysis — natural language processing — and behavioural analytics, new platforms can compile detailed profiles of both existing and future customers. In doing so, they can reveal key insights into brand audiences, including real individual interests and content consumption habits.
This information provides the basis for campaigns that truly resonate with digital audiences. Multiple variations of ads and messaging can be designed to appeal to countless different customer profiles. What’s more, publishers can also leverage their own first-party data to build customer profiles that facilitate better content matching and a greater ability to segment audiences, and monetise inventory.
But what about the ability to outpace real time; how can marketers do that? Herein lies the final benefit of these tools — the ability to see into the future.
Through a combination of audience profiles, past purchase, and behavioural data, smart technologies can now anticipate how likely a consumer is to buy a product, as well as when and where they might do so. By pinning down propensity to purchase, they enable marketers to serve messages that meet consumer needs, before they arise.
Brands can run proactive campaigns targeting consumers with genuinely relevant suggestions, ensuring their online ad experience is positive and useful. Rather than wasting advertising budgets serving ads for products consumers may or may not want, brands can craft bespoke, valuable messages that make a real impact. This requires marketers to employ a loop of continuous feedback in order to learn more about their customers as their wants and needs continue to change. Brands must be sensitive to these changes in order to remain relevant and front of mind with the consumer.
The continual rise of ad blocking is a clear indication that a digital advertising evolution is overdue—messages need to become more relevant, customised, and unexpected if they are to restore the lustre of the online ad experience. Brands already have the insight needed to go beyond personalisation hidden within their first-party data, they just need to take the next step and begin to unlock it.