Digital Media’s Much-Needed Resolutions For 2016

justinpetty-8451Data-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 Justin Petty, vice president of client solutions, media and partnerships at 84.51°.

A new year for many of us means a new start, a new way of doing things and a chance to make things better. We make resolutions about areas of our lives that we know could be better. A new year means a new start at reaching our potential.

This concept shouldn’t just apply to our personal lives but also to our professional lives and even entire industries. The digital media industry is an area where a few resolutions now could make a big impact within the next 12 months.

Digital media has the potential to be the best-performing media channel, but only if we resolve to make a few changes.

Advertisers: Measure Everything, Accurately

TV has had a gold standard of measurement for years. When digital media first came on the scene, everyone thought clicks would be the digital equivalent of measuring performance. It didn’t take long to discover that clicks and sales were not highly, positively correlated. Last-click attribution tried to be the measurement standard but it never had a chance.

Despite a seemingly collective acknowledgement within the industry that these legacy metrics don’t work, they are still being used. Luckily the abundance and integration of data now makes it possible to measure sales performance tied directly to the media exposures and across media platforms in a way that is unbiased and accurate. So there is no reason not to measure every campaign. Marketers should hold themselves accountable to the most accurate measurement possible. That’s the only way to learn what is truly working and what isn’t.

Resolve to use measurement to identify what is a waste of money and what actually resonates with consumers.

Publishers: Knock Down The Walls Of Their Walled Gardens

I am a proponent of doing what is right for the consumer, but this one is about doing what’s right for the advertiser.

At some point in the last few years the big publishers decided that they wanted to control how they were measured. I understand: It’s your business, so you want to make sure efforts are being measured accurately and fairly.

But it’s now 2016, and measurement has come a long way. There are many different methods and everyone has their favorite. Advertisers are unable to compare publisher-specific results to other media channels and platforms because the walled gardens don’t let media data in or out, and they don’t use the same method as other media channels. Therefore, the advertiser has no consistent way to compare performance across platforms.

Publishers should resolve to be more open with their data for measurement purposes to the benefit of the advertiser.

Agencies And Advertisers: Make Media Plans Consumer-Data Driven

In the age of big data, everyone should have access to consumer data that informs media plans. The most fundamental elements of the media plan, such as timing, frequency and target audience should all be easily identified through consumer behavior patterns and past campaign performance.

It’s also now possible to find data on more complex factors, including motivations, media consumption and content preferences. Marketing has become a data-driven business, and those advertisers not basing their media plans on the consumer will find themselves trailing the ones that do.

The ultimate winner here is the consumer. By basing the plan on the consumer, the ads will be more relevant and deliver more value back.

Advertisers and their agencies should resolve to remember that an ad is only a means to the end – to grow consumer loyalty – so media mix and channel strategies should be based on what you know about each consumer.

Marketers: Forget Reach And Focus On Reaching The Right People 

It’s hard to break tradition, but the traditional method of measuring campaigns by reach and impressions has led to some bad habits. Advertisers are often more concerned about reaching a certain number of impressions, and ad tech companies propagate this by optimizing for reach.

The direct mail world learned years ago that it was better to reach a smaller audience of the right people than to reach a large audience, which included volumes of nontarget households. Predictive modeling became a very effective means for right-sizing the audience to maximize the investment. The digital marketing world seems to have developed in a silo without applying any learning from the direct mail world.

Marketers should resolve to be more responsible with their media budgets and try to reach the right people, not just a number.

Industry: Consumers Seek Relevant Ads So Let’s Give Them What They Want 

Ad blocking and negative feelings towards cookie tracking are the result of consumers being bombarded with annoying and irrelevant ads. The best way to combat this trend is, of course, to make ads relevant.

When consumers feel ads are timely, informative, deliver value and meet their needs and wants, they are more receptive and less likely to block them. When measurement leads to better targeting and media plans are driven by the consumer data, the ads will be more relevant to the consumer.

The entire industry should resolve to make digital advertising more relevant so the annoyance factor goes down, saving digital advertising from regulation and being blocked into nonexistence.

Make Digital Media Perform As It Should

Digital media has the potential to be the best-performing media available. It can be highly targeted through cookies and device IDs. It can be more relevant since the cost to personalize creative is lower than nondigital media. It has the potential to be more timely and closer to the point of purchase.

And since it can be measured more accurately than just ratings points or impressions, it can be optimized in real time. Advertisers should resolve to use targeting, personalization, location, timing and optimization to realize the full power of digital media.

Follow Justin Petty (@just_n_petty) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter

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