When running a campaign, marketers first must incorporate user relevance into ad content and creative, thereby driving engagement, and ultimately, sales.
User engagement is what sets internet advertising apart from all other advertising media. Unlike TV, magazine, or billboard ads, which communicate only one way, consumers can click through online ads onto web pages rich with content, play a game, or engage with a brand. At the centre of effective engagement is the consumer. To best take advantage of the internet audience and drive buying activity, marketers first need to understand to whom they are marketing. Who is the consumer? How do they engage with brands? What is their decision making process?
Are you where your customers are?
In order to be considered, brands need to be seen. This is basic advice, but many brands still fail to take into consideration where their consumers are before they run a campaign. With almost 100 percent broadband penetration in Singapore and the number of Chinese internet users increasing by 800,000 a week, your users are clearly online. But where? Just paying for impressions while not taking into consideration where those impressions are showing is akin to throwing money into the wind. In order to effectively reach your target audience and maximize ROI, marketers need to have a deep understanding of their audience. Without this understanding, your ads may not reach your target audience.
If you are trying to sell cat litter, you want to show your ads on sites that reach cat owners. If you are running a campaign targeting teens, make sure you are running your ads on sites that offer deep engagement with teenagers. Targeting users by the content they consume is a simple but effective way of increasing ROI because the audience you are reaching has already been "pre-screened" to show a potential interest in your product or service.
Marketers can choose from a range of contextual targeting methods, from running ads in a single content channel to creating completely custom site networks. These custom networks combine sites to reach a target audience based on a variety of factors, such as the target audience's age, life stage, and interests or preferences beyond the product in question. For example, a custom site network for an athletic shoe company might include a combination of sites that appeal to runners, amateur sport players, and males aged 18-35, allowing marketers to connect with their target audience based on a variety of interests.
Know what to show them
Now that you are (literally) on the same page as your consumers, what are you going to show them? To answer that question, marketers must understand to what level their target audience is engaged with the site. Are your consumers looking for more information, researching consumer opinions, or are they ready to purchase?
Though users in Asia are spending more time on the internet than ever, research suggests that the internet is a powerful ecommerce tool because of the access to product information and user reviews it provides, and not simply its ability to facilitate online transactions.
In a study conducted by the US-based research firm Netpop in April 2009, the purchasing patterns of 3,027 consumers across Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand aged 18 and over who had bought a digital lifestyle product during the previous six months were surveyed.
The study found that eight in 10 of these people across the three countries spent over 60 minutes online researching the product, and that the internet was a top source of influence on the purchase cycle (23 percent), compared to friends/family (17 percent), sales staff at the store (10 percent), in-store promotional displays (10 percent) and coupons/promotions (10 percent). More people used the internet than any other source at each step of the research and purchase process -- from interest to evaluation, to price/feature comparisons, and even to the final decision on what and where to buy.
Though users went online to decide what or whether to purchase, three out of four actual purchases happened in store. Users preferred to see, touch, and feel the product before purchase, and were conscious of good in-store customer service and extra shipping costs. This tidbit of knowledge is crucial to driving consumer activity and maximizing ROI.
If you know that your audience uses the internet to research products but prefers to make purchases in-store instead of online, your ads would drive better engagement if they showed the location of your nearest brick-and-mortar store or showed an ad that linked to your product testimonials page. By taking advantage of dynamic ad units that can leverage contextual, demographic, and behavioral data, marketers can automatically generate hundreds of relevant and meaningful ads on the fly that create more relevant user experiences.
In a head-to-head test, US-based media solutions company Tribal Fusion showed that ads with dynamic content increased the ad interaction rate by 20 percent on average, and increased view through conversions by an average of 80 percent. By dynamically changing the ad content based on the user viewing the ad, Tribal Fusion effectively showed that incorporating user information increased user engagement and user action.
When running a campaign, marketers first must take into account who they are marketing to and craft the campaign around audience insights. The most effective and engaging campaigns will incorporate user relevance into ad content and creative, thereby capturing user attention, driving user engagement, and, ultimately, driving sales.