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Four challenges facing brands today

Four challenges facing brands today Peter Crofut
Over the past several years, the advertising industry has witnessed exponential change -- change that has resulted from shifts in consumer behaviors, such as increased smartphone and tablet usage, as well as change that has resulted from advances in business technologies, such as ad exchanges and programmatic buying. These changes create both the need and the opportunity for marketers to flip the traditional model of advertising on its head.

Marketers once had to reach as many people as possible with their campaigns, in order to find those that actually cared about their products and services. But today, technology enables marketers to first focus on engaging those most likely to be interested, and then focus on using the resulting insights and advocacy to build engaged reach, making the entire marketing plan work harder for them. We're exploring this, and other aspects of modern brand building, as part of an ongoing series we're calling The Engagement Project. (Read more about this concept here.)

As we change the way we reach audiences, prioritizing engagement over broad exposure, we also need to rethink the way that we speak to those audiences -- once your brand is in front of the right people, are you telling them an engaging, relevant message? The ad technology and platforms are now available to help us elevate storytelling and engage with consumers through the creative we present. So how do we actually use that technology to build more intelligent creative? And how do we piece together the right joint media and creative solution to make the message relevant for every viewer?

Our goal with this article and future articles to come is to begin to answer these questions and incite a dialogue around how we can use ad technology to make creative more intelligent. We’ll expose the challenges brands face in this new advertising landscape, and we’ll discuss strategies for employing technology to overcome these challenges and create unique and amazing solutions for your brands.

So today, we begin with the challenges.

Challenge #1: Prioritize content: Create compelling and engaging brand experiences.

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to the notion that they can (and should) expect great things from brands. To meet these lofty expectations, advertisers need to create compelling ad experiences that use sight, sound, motion and interactivity to engage and delight consumers. The ad experience of today needs to look more like simply great content, and less like the static image ads of the past. Advertisers must use creative formats and features in new, innovative ways to bring their brands to life for consumers.

Challenge #2: Incorporate data: Present a relevant message for every viewer.

One of the biggest technological changes in the industry has been the introduction of programmatic buying, which gives agencies a level of audience detail that the industry has never before witnessed. While media agencies have become equipped to maximize this wealth of information, creative agencies have been slower to adopt. Creative agencies need to become fluent in the data available so they can infuse their creative with these data signals, such as geo-location or time of day, to make their message relevant for every viewer. But melding creative with data isn’t a simple process -- the planning requires close collaboration between creative and media agencies and the implementation requires extensive resources from both.

Challenge #3: Let your audience find you: Build creative campaigns across screens.

People are consuming content across multiple screens all the time. 89% of people use their smartphone throughout the day1 and 90% of multiple device owners switch between screens to complete tasks.2 Because people are using many devices to accomplish their tasks, it’s imperative for brands to position themselves across screens in cohesive and effective ways. But building creative that works across all these devices is still very difficult.

We’ve seen the insurgence of HTML5 across the industry -- a new language for coding creative that works fluidly on smartphones, tablets and increasingly on desktop browsers. However, we are only beginning to see the emergence of tools that enable developers and designers to build HTML5 creative that can easily be published across all these screens. Further, the fragmentation of device and browser types leads to issues with ad standardization. The lack of adequate authoring tools and ad standards makes cross-screen creative a very real challenge for agencies today.

Challenge #4: Measure and scale a robust campaign.

When a brand has to build a campaign that spans screens, excites users, and plugs data programmatically into the ads, that campaign will have become quite expansive and complex. Consequently, measurement and scalability of these campaigns is a huge challenge. Can a brand take their robust strategy and bring it across all of their advertising campaigns, in a cost-effective and optimized way? In other words, once you’ve lathered and rinsed, can you repeat?

In summary, the challenges facing brand marketers in digital advertising are large, but we believe that there are good solutions available to overcome them. In our subsequent articles, we’ll begin to unravel the potential solutions to these challenges. And we’ll explore strategies that we’ve seen from brands who have already successfully navigated the new advertising landscape – so stay tuned!

1) The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users

2) The Shift to constant connectivity

As head of Google's creative platforms solutions, Peter Crofut is a 15-year veteran of display who oversees Google's creative platforms strategy and the team of specialists focusing on helping the creative agency community leverage...

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