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The four things keeping digital marketers up at night and how to solve them

By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large (APAC)

October 18, 2021 | 10 min read

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Anyone in charge of digital ad spend knows all too well the inevitability of change, but there are some topics that are especially front of mind for digital leaders today.

The four things keeping digital marketers up at night and how to solve them

The four things keeping digital marketers up at night and how to solve them

The Drum and Oracle recently ran a survey with readers and found first-party data, brand safety, ad fraud and viewability to be major areas of concern. Some of those may not be new to you but why do marketers think those are essential to them right now?

While all the compliances matter, marketers have to think about growth. They have to protect their brand image and convey messages. The question is 'how.' With so much action all around, the job of a marketer has never been more difficult, and multi-layered. Even with all the changes happening in the landscape, maximising every customer interaction remains the vital focus for marketers.

We spoke to industry leaders about these trends and how they are addressing them:

First-party data, brand safety, ad fraud and viewability are increasingly emerging as some of the major areas of concern or areas of interest amongst marketers. How does that compare with your own priorities?

Michelle Hobbs, APAC lead for Platform GSK, Publicis Groupe: Have you been looking at our 2021 focus areas?! Yes, these are all areas of concern for our clients but they are not new this year, we have been working on these areas for the last few years so have comprehensive workstreams in place that we adjust on a frequent basis as we see the landscape evolve.

Rohan Kamra, regional digital marketing and sales enablement manager - Asia Pacific and Japan, Intel: All the above mentioned areas are of prime importance to me as well (in context of the my current job at Intel). First party data was always a priority primarily because of the nature of Intel’s business and value we put on building direct relationships that we own and manage rather being than dependent on rented ones. Because of a large percentage of our media spend going into all things digital - brand safety, ad fraud and viewability are key to ensure that our spends are not only efficient but also effective while keeping the brand safe.

Tripti Lochan, co-chief executive officer Asia at VMLY&R: Protecting our clients’ brands and making sure they remain authentic to their values is not something new for us. We have always believed that to be successful and forge authentic and meaningful connections with consumers, brands need to have a purpose and a value that resonates. It’s our job to help them uncover this purpose and to communicate it in a way that creates a best-in-class experience. So, increased scrutiny on first-party data, brand safety, etc., is catching up to where we’ve always been.

Matt Bennathan, senior director, JAPAC, BR and LATAM, Oracle Advertising: It’s reassuring to see first-party data and brand safety at the top of the list by some margin. Brand safety has evolved from basic to sophisticated as advertisers and their agencies utilise more custom brand safety maps to identify suitable content using intelligent, adaptable classifications that understand the context for your brand or sector.

What is suitable for Microsoft is different than what is suitable for VW. Brand safety isn’t about dated keyword block lists and excluding adult content anymore – that comes as standard – but do not advertise to your first-party customer data in the wrong environment! And where your current customers are, you will find new customers.

How should marketers change their approach to ad targeting? Does context play a bigger part?

Publicis Groupe’s Hobbs: Context has always played an important role in advertising, there is a proven connection between context and how ads are processed which affects ad recall, brand perceptions and ultimately potential sales response. However, it’s only one part of the mix: targeting, reach and creative are also very important. The best ads have memorable creative served to an audience at scale within an environment a consumer is already engaged with.

Intel’s Kamra: I am personally a big fan of contextual targeting. The environment matters a lot in the context of what the end user is consuming and hence if approached with relevant messaging the chances of eliciting the desired action increases manifold Vs trying to use the approach of “following around” at the cheapest price.

VMLY&R’s Lochan: Data alone is irrelevant if you can’t look at it in the context of the consumer’s life. Brands need to think beyond just their own product or service, instead looking at how they can put the consumer at the heart of what they do – which requires a good understanding of consumer behaviour, motivation and responses within a lifestyle context. Successful targeting then, is about understanding the ‘why’ as much as the ‘what,’ in order to connect with consumers on a deeper level, rather than just showing up in the right places. It’s the brands who can connect with consumers on cause and purpose in their targeting who will inevitably make the most impact and see the biggest returns.

How important are attention metrics becoming in measurement in a post-third-party cookie world?

Jonathan Beguely, senior client partner, Oracle Advertising: In 2012, the IAB and MRC introduced Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification, and since then, marketers, publishers, platforms, and agencies have been measuring the success of their digital media campaigns against three key metrics – valid, viewable and brand safe. Valid, viewable and brand safe are the baseline for measurement – the foundation in which to build from. The next step is to look beyond verification toward attention.

Attention metrics provide marketers with more meaningful insight – they highlight which creatives, channels, platforms and targeting segments are driving impact. As an example, display advertising can be thought about in two attention groups – time spent, and engagement. For time spent, we look at metrics like active page dwell time, or exposure time, and for engagement we look at metrics like in-view time, interaction rate, and interaction time.

For a marketer, maximising every customer interaction is vital, and when we think about that in the context of digital advertising, we think about maximising the impact every impression can have on the intended audience. Verification gives an ad a chance to succeed, but that’s all it is, a chance. Marketers wanting to maximise their media budget and drive true advertising effectiveness need to be measuring their entire digital buy and need to be looking beyond verification toward attention.

Publicis Groupe’s Hobbs: We will be seeing Marketers place more importance on attention metrics over the next 12 months, before we are even in a post-third-party cookie world. There is some very interesting research in this space already which shows the difference in effectiveness of ads viewed on different platforms and within content that delivers higher engagement. We are trialling the possibility of optimizing on attention and the increased effectiveness this can deliver in terms of increasing brand metrics (awareness, brand perceptions) for our clients.

Intel’s Kamra: Attention metrics will be a key in a post third party cookie scenarios bringing focus on metrics like time in view, format, ad placement and importantly the role of creative which had diminished a little in the race to chase purely data points. While a general consensus exists on the value of attention metrics and their relation to business outcomes some gaps do exist in the measurement aspect of it relating to mobile advertising which will need technology and timely education to overcome.

VMLY&R’s Lochan: To truly understand how well your content is performing, it’s increasingly important to not only look at how many times it’s been viewed, but also how long it was viewed for, and how consumers interacted with it. Was it shared, commented on, and how much real estate did it take up? These days, with so many touchpoints being added to the consumer journey, brands need to be cognisant of all these metrics in real-time so that they can understand the full picture, and make sure that the experience they are providing to customers is continuously being refined and improved for maximum impact and resonance with human need at the core.

To find out about more solutions to the industry’s top-of-mind topics, check out Oracle Advertising’s website and contact for more details. Recent industry topics are also available on the blog and a demo request is also available here.

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