Ad Tech Vendors Need to Market To The Marketers

denisecolellaData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Denise Colella, CEO at Maxifier.

Know your customer. It’s rule No. 1 in marketing, yet the ad tech industry has fallen down in understanding its most important customer: marketers.

In the past, I’ve urged programmatic vendors to stop the obnoxious use of acronyms. Discussions about RTB between SSPs and DSPs fly swiftly over the heads of many brand marketers, and in many cases reporting on campaign CTRs and CPAs has little value to them.

How can ad tech vendors effectively market to the marketers if they’re not listening or responding to their specific needs?

Programmatic advertising is complicated and highly technical. Vendors must understand all of the subtleties, nuances and intricacies of the new programmatic direct landscape, as well as its implications for supply- and demand-side parties. Even the savviest of marketers can get bogged down in a conversation.

This chasm is more than a communication breakdown. It’s a major reason why we don’t see brand dollars migrating online from TV at the same speed as eyeballs.

The Right Metrics

When it comes to ad tech, brand marketers want more efficient execution and improved integration between their media buys and data on consumers, prospects and influencers. They also need relevant metrics that can be applied to all the channels they use. This was highlighted in the recent Nielsen report, “State of the Digital Brand Advertising Industry.”

A range of executives, including more than 540 senior brand leaders, said they would spend more on digital if offered the right metrics, the report found. Some 95% of responders wanted the ability to measure if their brand advertising had achieved the desired result, with 64% seeking to use the same metrics to evaluate effectiveness online that they use offline so they could truly understand the impact in different environments.

It is quite possible that the industry’s obsession with direct-response metrics has actually hindered digital’s growth. This is not new. As early as 2009, research by Bain and the IAB [PDF] highlighted that metrics were one of the five key obstacles to shifting more brand advertising dollars online.

Know Your Customer

It is an exciting time to be involved in the ad tech space. It’s disrupting the traditional advertising industry and adding incredible value to the relationship between advertisers and digital consumers. Ad tech is the engine driving the online advertising industry and its growth. You hear at conferences about the ways in which systems are innovating, as companies go head-to-head over which has the most robust algorithms. But there’s little benefit to the marketer in understanding the inner workings. At the end of the day, we’re really talking about the pipes. Are marketers really interested? Most just want to know that it works.

Marketing to marketers requires that we deliver not what we think is best, but what marketers actually need. It means focusing on the benefit to customers, not the flexing of algorithmic muscles.

Volkswagen serves as an example of a company successfully reading its audience. The carmaker is known for its complicated and strange but brilliant engine designs. However, when it began installing its eight-cylinder piston internal combustion W8 engine in Passats in 2001, it didn’t air TV commercials touting the benefits of mounting the engine blocks at 15 degrees. That it produced 370 newton metres of torque at 2,750 RPM didn’t make a single magazine ad. Its customers simply don’t care about the specifics of resonance induction systems or double overhead camshafts. They care about comfort, power, safety and stability.

Speaking the language of the marketer means speaking to what they know. They care about driving sales growth, improving brand perception and retaining control of their messaging and brand image. Engagement and amplification matter to marketers, not how Deal IDs are assigned or how many terabytes of data are being processed.

Get back to rule No.1 in marketing and get to know your customers and speak to their needs and goals. You can deliver by making a concerted effort to talk to them, rather than at them.

Follow Denise Colella (@decolella), Maxifier (@maxifier) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Peggy Reinders

    THANK YOU for writing this article! I’ve been talking to others about this same issue for years. When working as a marketer at a big CPG company, my biggest frustration with the ad tech vendors has been their lack of knowledge about the challenges I’m trying to solve. If they would learn how to solution-sell vs. product-sell, I think they’d be more successful. Great analogy with Volkswagon too!