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Advertising is broken. Here’s what you need to do.
January 22, 2021
By Cristy Garcia, Global VP of Marketing, Impact
I grew up in the 1980s, the golden era of advertising, when indelible slogans and catchy jingles were all around. I loved it all and wanted to be a part of the ad agencies making those incredible campaigns. But then the 2008 crash happened. Global advertising slumped by more than 10% as the global recession took hold; the bad economy accelerated the shift to digital advertising - an all-in-one channel, cheaper, more targeted - and I became a B2B tech marketer instead.
I learned the digital channels and grew obsessed with the science of reaching the right consumers in the right place, at the right time. I came to love the creativity in identifying what drives behaviour, and then using customer acquisition and branding campaigns to drive pipeline.
But marketers, we overdid it. And now advertising is broken. This is what’s gone wrong:
● Display ads are creatively lacking, and aggravating users so much that 26% were using adblockers last year. (Among those who don’t and clicked on an ad, 34% said it was a mistake and 15% accused advertisers of tricking of them into it.)
● Customer acquisition has become far harder. 60% of marketers say their acquisition costs have increased, at a time when targeted ads have also become less relevant,
● …consumers are suffering ever more from ad fatigue, banner ad blindness and a lack of trust for brands’ advertising and sales efforts. Instead, they are relying more on trusted recommendations, research and referrals from individuals and other businesses they do trust.
These trends have brought us to where we are today. So how can marketers make these trends work for them? The answer is partnerships, built on authenticity, advocacy and trust.
Most companies fixate on direct sources of revenue: driving more traffic into their properties to sell more of their products and services. But many have also opened their eyes and recognised that they have another under-utilised asset: their audiences, and specifically
the trust and brand equity they have built with them.
Businesses are integrating with other businesses, mobile apps, influencers, content publishers, charities and others. One of the best trends to come out of this organic innovation is that it has given marketers the ability to connect with customers in a meaningful and authentic way, reflecting the new path of the modern customer journey.
Sometimes, companies can provide smart recommendations to their audiences, to solve
problems that their own company’s products cannot solve, or to enhance their overall customer experience. This is the world of strategic B2B partnerships. Increasingly we see examples of partnerships such as co-branding, technical integrations and co-marketing. Rastelli’s is a US client of ours, selling meat and fish direct to consumers and growing fast. One of their first partners was Sun Basket, a customer meal subscription box. It began organically: Sun Basket referred customers to Rastelli’s who wanted to supplement their prepared meal subscription; and Rastelli’s sent Sun Basket customers who appreciated prepared meals using sustainably sourced foods.
The companies recognised an opportunity: strategic B2B partnerships can both accept and drive traffic to and from each other in complementary ways.
With consumers spending more time at home and on their mobile devices, it’s important to have content partnerships in place to grow your brand. What I like about content partnerships is this: publishers are often open to being paid this way versus traditional media placements or sponsored content.
For instance, FuboTV, a sport-focused live TV streaming service, partnered with Business Insider on a review article, in which Business insider, as the publisher, receives a commission for driving sales or trials to the FuboTV page. By leveraging such content and other non-traditional partnerships, FuboTV has seen a 65% lift from their partner program.
This is where display advertising still scores. Take Ticketmaster and Spotify: the global ticketing platform wanted to reach music lovers and knew they were seeing quality traffic coming from their mobile channel, so they decided to partner with Spotify on a performance basis through Impact’s platform.
The mechanic is very simple. If you’re listening to Clairo and you get served an ad from Ticketmaster that shows when Clairo is performing in concert nearby - when that sort of thing was available, pre-Covid - you can click to buy tickets and go right back to listening to your playlist.
This is a truly authentic experience for customers. Meanwhile, Ticketmaster saw 32% year-on-year growth from this partnership alone, and 20% higher conversion rates than via the traditional display channel.
Here, a brand forms a partnership with an influencer, who agrees to expose their audience to the brand. I know there are anxieties around this channel - you may think tracking ROI for these campaigns is difficult, and it certainly can be. But with the correct technologies in
place, the entire lifecycle is completely automated - discovery, recruitment, payment, all of it.
Premium subscription wine business Winc partners with nano, micro and macro influencers, using a variety of models, including rev-share affiliate marketing and pay-per post. They use and promote their influencers’ content across their other owned and paid channels, and in the pandemic year they doubled-down on influencers, who in turn accounted for 15% or more of total acquisitions.
With influencers, but also with other partners, the partnership fundamentals remain the same:
● Find partners based on audiences and objectives
● Communicate goals
● Track and pay
● Review and optimise
● Scale to new partners
Brands who haven’t already done so need to rethink their advertising strategy and lean in on partnering, because I don’t see the underlying consumer behaviour trends changing any time soon. Influencers, brand to brand, content partnerships and more are driving significant revenue for our clients, who range from Top 10 internet retailers to small D2C companies looking for fast growth.
Rekindle that love you have once had for advertising by taking your owned channels - display, SEM, SEO, email marketing, influencers or anything else - and finding partners you can work with across your marketing strategy. At best, you will outperform your benchmarks, and at worst, you’ve tried something new to improve performance in a very difficult year to be a marketer.