As I act as the digital marketing arbiter between my clients and the digital marketing landscape, my team and I play a perpetual game to stay ahead of the latest products that will provide my client's business substantive gains. As such, I regularly challenge my media team to explore these new trends either through reading articles, like this one, or to reach out to our extensive publisher/vendor list for some insight. With every meeting, we perpetuate a metaphorical game of "Frogger" through these potential partner's value propositions to find our winners.
As 2016 gets into full swing, early indications are pointing to the following areas that my team will be keenly focused on and likewise keenly interested in learning more about from our industry partners.
Advanced programmatic bidding (or header bidding)
Header bidding may sound a bit foreign to some buyers (myself included -- until I was turned on to it by Adrian Menstell), but far more top-of-mind for publishers offering up their inventory on ad exchanges (e.g. DoubleClick Exchange or Pubmatic). The idea of header bidding isn't new, but is starting to gain more traction as publishers start to leverage it in the hopes of squeezing a bit more margin out of their inventory. Essentially, this method allows publishers to offer up their inventory to multiple ad exchanges at the same time, allowing them to compete for the inventory (instead of just leveraging one). Ultimately, this directly affects Google's DoubleClick exchange (since most publishers use DoubleClick's DFP as their ad server that directly feeds them to Google's DoubleClick exchange), as it will allow smaller players more opportunities to win bids.
Why do I care as a buyer?
Targeted authentic content marketing
Content marketing can be one of the most valuable tools a marketer can employ if the message is authentic and insightful. While this seems obvious, much of what marketers send out as "authentic" is just marketing jargon, not a voice of an actual consumer, due to legal concerns, resources, or simply a lack of ideas. Too often content marketers are satisfied with embedding their corporate tagline messages through syndicated content, advertorials, endorsements, syndication of positive PR, and/or a blog post. While these tactics are a good baseline, there should be more to the campaign than simple amplification, especially for products/services that require several layers of corporate "buy in."
As an example for a B2B marketer, if your company is selling a piece of enterprise software, a corporate 401k retirement package, corporate travel deal, medical equipment, etc. -- those corporate buyers will likely need buy in from those in finance, IT implementers, and/ or C-Suite executives before a "sale" can be accomplished. This means that a marketer can either hope that their single piece of content will be powerful enough to make it through the company hierarchy, or develop additional variations that speak to the key decision-makers and influencers.
For tech-based purchases, the developer audience is especially tricky, as according to DeveloperMedia, "…developers are highly competent, driven by technical achievement, and skeptical of everything. These traits make communication challenging." In addition to this research, many will frequent developer-focused blogs and forums to solicit information and advice. When we compare a developer to a CEO, we find that the latter tend to describe themselves more as visionary, competitive, and ambitious. They need research points but generally delegate this to their team, though they themselves will ultimately make the final decision. These folks index high on tech, business, news, and sports sites.
This means that marketers wishing to make inroads with developers need to focus on the facts, include data points, and be authentic. Consider reaching out to industry influencers on social media channels such as Twitter and Reddit and look at producing feature-specific testimonials by other developers in ads, social media, and/or on landing pages. If this is cost prohibitive, I have seen some exciting video programs by Looksio and am currently evaluating programs they have put together around user generated video aggregation and produced content. In contrast, if you want to make inroads with CEOs, consider looking at investing in business/news sites (e.g. Economist, FT.com, etc…) with content that will speak to how that piece of technology can move their business forward in short "snackable" sound bites.
For partners that have capabilities around targeted authentic content marketing, companies like mine will be very interested in learning about it in 2016.
Cross-channel targeting and attribution
Cross-channel targeting and attribution is something that people have been talking about over the last few years. A large number of partners either claim to "do it all"-- or a portion of it -- but we now sit in 2016 in a similar place as we were last year at this time. Today, marketers can find that most partners can do things like geo-target people based on their IP address, account-based target, retarget users based on their online behavior, upload CRM databases to enhance targeting, match a user's desktop with their mobile device, and target based on a website's contextual relevancy. However, with the continuing industry changes, cookie-blocking is making accurate targeting and tracking much more difficult.
As publishers have gotten more advanced in the targeting aspect of cross-channel over the past few years, the tracking and attribution components have been underwhelming (referenced in a previous article on this site). To date, most ad servers, publishers, and reporting systems can track conversions that hit multiple channels/devices, but those same reports only bucket them together and the "match rate" across devices is not 100 percent. If you want to see multi-touch and cross-channel attribution, the only way to get these reports is through a raw data feed (event level), which then has to be analyzed internally or by an external company (e.g. Convertro by AOL or Adometry by Google). Further, the reports that get spit out aren't very actionable or insightful, and may cost an agency tens of thousands of dollars on something that will not directly impact their client's business.
Admittedly, I have had "cross-channel attribution" on my wish list for several years and am not entirely optimistic this will come to fruition this year -- however, I am confident that it is only a matter of time before it happens. Maybe in 2016 we will have a cost-effective, automated, and integrated solution for marketers' cross-channel needs.
Thomas Moyer is media supervisor at Dentsu Aegis Network.
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