Every year, we make personal resolutions. Some we keep, but most fall by the wayside. As 2015 gets rolling, it's time to think about your marketing resolutions as well. The key with these resolutions is that you need to keep them so you aren't the one getting kicked to the curb.
Overall, you should focus on becoming more streamlined and effective in 2015. You need to up your game when it comes to taking calculated risks, which is going to feel uncomfortable for many of you who have been sticking with familiar strategies for years. Consumer attitudes and engagement about and with advertisers are changing, and so are the interactions between advertisers and publishers. The tipping point has already started, so it's time to ride the crest of the wave or have a nasty career wipeout.
Marketing resolution No. 1: Shift to programmatic
If you haven't at least been dabbling with buying your display, mobile, and video placements programmatically, you need to catch up quickly. Programmatic platforms have matured to the point where it makes more sense to buy and sell standard IAB units across display, mobile, and video on exchanges than through traditional IOs.
Operational efficiencies provide gains in the form for resource allocation and speed. As an example, it may take one month to execute a half dozen media buys the traditional way, but those same six buys can be done in a matter of hours programmatically. You can test quickly and achieve scale across placements at speeds that used to be operationally prohibitive. Since you will be using established channels, legal review is dramatically minimized or eliminated in a programmatic environment. The time you save can be reallocated to higher payout activities.
Programmatic targeting capabilities are superior and easier to execute. You have the ability to set your targets, using the data partnerships available in most programmatic platforms, by simply checking a box. Testing is quick, which makes it easy to hone in on the audiences that most effectively hit your goals.
Resolution No. 2: Invest in video
Video advertising isn't just for television anymore. Site, sound, and motion online can best be achieved through online video. There are several options available to you, and the first is utilizing video as an advertising medium. Most of your scale when it comes to video will fall into 15- and 30-second pre-rolls, although long-form video ad placements are available at a smaller scale. Technology advancements over the past couple of years have made it much more affordable to generate and distribute custom web video content. This is your opportunity to be creative and come up with a high-impact advertisement that appeals to the medium versus simply repurposing your television spots.
When it comes to purchasing your video ad placements, test out a mix of site-specific buys with video-specific programmatic inventory like Adap.tv and Brightroll. In addition to your traditional metrics, pay attention to video completion rates and engagement for more interactive video ads.
In addition to short-form ads, take a look at your content strategy as it relates to video. The medium is perfect for conveying details regarding your products or services. That said, keep in mind that this is the internet, not an infomercial. Less is more, so consider keeping content to three minutes or less.
Another consideration you have to make for your video content is whether or not to allow pre-roll advertising. This can be done in an open environment or can be limited to specific, third-party brands or your additional brands. Used correctly, it can be a strong revenue driver that can cover the cost of production and video advertising initiatives.
Resolution No. 3: Use first-party data
While using third-party data to enable targeting is better than no targeting at all, it is also the same targeting anyone else can use. Start using a combination of your own data along with first-party data from publishers in place of or to enhance targeting with third-party data.
The data you collect can be used to generate repeat purchases, promote brand loyalty programs, and to cross-sell products. In addition, you can use this data along with third-party data in order to generate lookalike audiences. Doing so will expand the size of your audience pool to increase the scale of your programs.
When the option is available, utilize the first-party data from the publisher who is hosting your ads. They will give you either browsing or transaction-level data, which will allow you to specifically target their site visitors.
Resolution No. 4: Focus on quality
Not all ads are created equal. There are a few areas where you can focus your energy that will increase the quality and, ultimately, the effectiveness of your placements.
First, look at what channels you purchase and what type of data you use. If you advertise on retail sites and layer in the retailer's first-party purchase data, you can be assured that your ad will not only reach a real person (bots don't shop), but that you will reach a consumer with specific purchase behavior that can translate to your campaign goals.
Second, look at where you display your ads when you are doing site-specific buys. Test various placements to see which ones do best for your brand. Keep in mind that below-the-fold placements may work well for you depending on content adjacency, overall site experience, and consumer engagement levels.
Finally, use 2015 to determine what role viewability plays for you. The MRC defines a viewable display ad as 50 percent of the ad pixels in view for at least one second. The recommended standard of 70 percent may be a good benchmark for some of your buys, but lower standards may make sense depending on the sites involved and the data you use. At the end of the day, use your analytics packages to determine the right benchmark for you based on advertising performance in relation to the cost of media.
Resolution No. 5: Step out of your comfort zone
Let me be clear: Stepping out of your comfort zone does not mean making wild and careless decisions. Instead, take a look at all of the methods at your disposal and pick a handful that are out of your comfort zone, but make up a calculated risk based on your objectives.
The level of discomfort you and your brand are willing to experience will vary, but keep in mind that breakthroughs never happen by playing it safe. If you're facing pushback, incorporate the first four recommended resolutions as starting points to move the needle into uncharted territory.
These five marketing resolutions complement each other. For example, when it comes to programmatic, first-party data can be integrated into your buys. With video, after you have tested flat pre-roll, spend time integrating interactivity and see how it impacts your results.
The bottom line is that you must take action. So make the commitment to your marketing resolutions and carefully watch how these changes impact your results.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"New Year Decoration" image via Shutterstock.