“Data-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 Chris Gomersall, CEO at Atomized.
It feels like the only consistent trend in marketing today is the never-ending race to catch up. An explosion of new media platforms has created more opportunity than ever to reach consumers with a brand message. But with that acceleration has come a surge of data that adds even more complexity into the accompanying creative process.
Marketers need to develop a creative strategy that takes into account what makes each platform unique. The strategy must also leverage the data generated by each platform, while simultaneously tying all creative together to maintain consistent themes and goals.
It’s not as simple as slicing through the data, normalizing it and picking one message and set of creative for each channel either. Look at social media, where Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all require different strategies, brand voices and creative executions. Each platform also generates a wealth of data about users. This data teaches brands about potential creative executions and helps to optimize them, but the more you can do, the more you have to manage.
The only way to navigate the proliferation of platforms is to understand each platform’s benefits and parse the insights of their respective data. Consider the type of audience each platform attracts and whether that’s the right audience for the brand. Instagram and Pinterest are rolling out APIs that make it easier for advertisers to access their audiences, but that doesn’t mean that those are the right places for every advertiser.
The goal is to match the benefit of the platform to the purpose of the brand. Purpose is the beginning of the entire process – once identified, that purpose helps develop a marketing belief, which dictates what content is published. Brands need answers for why they exist and were created in the first place. Once marketers identify the mission and figure out what they want to accomplish, they can determine which elements of that mission are actionable across each platform.
Look at Nike as an example: Its purpose as a brand is to enable the inner athlete in everyone. In the overall marketing mix, that translates into the brand belief, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” On Facebook, Nike executes when it publishes messages of athletic empowerment based on known interests from various Facebook audiences. The brand ultimately wants the audience to “gear up to get ready.” Once that purpose is identified, the brand shouldn’t stray from its core identity on the platform.
With a purpose in place, the brand can move on to further defining its personality on the platform, which is a combination of imagery, tone of voice, who it wants to target and how it can make slight adjustments to the creative based on that targeting strategy, much of which is informed by platform data. Programmatic technology now makes it easy to deliver ads efficiently, and the data in turn informs the way the creative is deployed. YouTube and Facebook are both video-heavy channels, but brands should leverage different creative and messages, even when running 30-second videos on both platforms.
With most forms of media, the data tells us that the best way for a brand to stand out is by blending in. People interact with many platforms by scrolling through feeds of content that are extremely important to them. If they see something that is overtly an ad, they’ll scroll right past it. But if the creative looks like it could have come from a friend, the marketer has a chance to reach the consumer in perhaps the most personal way possible.
Mobile accounts for more than three-quarters of Facebook’s ad revenue, and those ads are delivered to the consumer front and center, one ad on a smartphone at a time. They are full-page ads on the phone, positioned between some of the most important things in a consumer’s life. There is a huge responsibility to put forth a strong creative message.
Part of that responsibility comes down to knowing what to omit as well. Brands can’t treat any channel as if it’s inconsequential and simply toss any old creative on there. Up until recently, many brands treated social media as an afterthought, leaving it to an intern or junior-level employee. I’ve seen executives take pictures on their phones and send them to the social team in an email that says, “Post this!”
This is completely backward and, more than likely, doesn’t further the brand’s stated purpose. A single photo on Instagram can be guaranteed to reach millions of people in a highly targeted audience within a few short days. That’s probably larger than the audience for most print ads these days. If the CMO doesn’t know – or care – about what’s running on Instagram tomorrow and how it relates to the brand’s overall purpose, identity and strategy, that’s a huge problem. If the content doesn’t fit into the brand’s beliefs, it doesn’t belong on a brand channel.
The future of marketing will come down to developing ads that are not only relevant for the audience that receives the message, but also relevant to the channel itself. The more data we have, the better we will become at doing that.
As the list of formats continues to grow, brands will require one game plan that guides them everywhere they want to go. This is not a case of publish or perish. Brands need to do the work of identifying their purpose and identity across each platform, analyzing the data from the respective platform and delivering their message.