Scaling your relationship with an anonymous audience:
Look to the past to see the future.
If you’ve got young children you may well have found that they’re fascinated with what to them seems ancient history, and what to you seems just like yesterday. I remember my daughter aged 7 talking to her Grandmother about what it was like to be seven in 1943. My mother explained that she lived in a house with no warm water and that she had to bathe in a tub in front of the sitting room fire. All of this my daughter accepted without question, but when my mother also explained that the house was lit with gas lanterns because there was no electricity she suddenly exclaimed “Grandma, you’re tricking me!” Why was this? Well it was obvious to my daughter that it was impossible to have a house with no electricity because there would be nowhere to charge your iPhone. I realised that, quite genuinely, my daughter could not remember a world without smart devices, but, believe me, there was such a time, in fact there was a time with no internet at all, and yet somehow data-driven direct marketing still happened. So when I hear talk of marketing Armageddon and the death of digital marketing, forgive me for pointing out that data-driven direct marketing existed before cookies, and it will exist after cookies.
So, what’s the way forward?
Part of the answer to this question lies in looking at what we did in the past and learning from what we did badly and what we did well.
Pre-internet data-driven direct mail is widely acknowledged as the pre-cursor to digital advertising. Just like digital, the practice of direct mail started small and became hugely scaled. There were two key differences however, firstly the cost of physical elements like print, paper and delivery, meant more effective targeting was required to deliver a positive ROI. Secondly, in today’s terms at least, there was significant scarcity of data.
Despite these challenges, within less than ten years, progressed from mailing targeted lists, of perhaps 10,000 survey responders, to placing over 21bn targeted mail pieces into the post in the UK alone every year. Note there was also a key difference in the way this was measured, this is 21bn individual marketing messages, not 21bn impressions. And, just like digital marketing this flourishing industry underwent a seismic shift and collapsed due to audience disengagement and tighter legislation.
Firstly, let’s look at the two biggest problems faced by marketers in the 1990’s, the two biggest mistakes we made when trying to solve them, and compare this to the last ten years.
Problem #1 Using historical data, even if it’s recent history, is like driving a car by looking in the rear-view mirror to predict the road ahead.
Programmatic advertising is widely accepted as the most efficient form of marketing, where demand and supply are presented in a globally liquid marketplace, matching inventory and pricing with demand in real time. This buying process is light years ahead of the 1990’s but targeting is still dependent on historical information, like browsing history and previous purchases, to determine future behavior. There is some timely information available from browsing behaviour but, as all of us who have experienced re-targeting know, even ‘in-market’ identifiers have a short shelf life.
The road ahead is never the same as the road behind, we knew this in the 1990’s just as well as its known now, but in 2008, many lenders learnt to their cost that the road ahead was very different indeed. In 2020 years on we’re still applying the rear-view mirror approach.
“It’s straightforward to predict with great accuracy who will buy a product, its considerably harder to predict when they will encounter the circumstances to motivate them to buy it.”
This has been the major challenge for all marketing to date and is the primary driver of consumer disengagement, because whilst it’s possible to target consumers with the right message the best way to ensure the right time is to present the message ALL the time. Measuring ROI in isolation suggests that in the absence of any trigger information, this approach is the most effective option. This was the justification for high volume direct mail AKA junk mail and it’s also the justification for re-targeting AKA SPAM. The effect of both has been the same, massive audience disengagement.
In summary current practices remain as flawed the past, and guess what, we’re seeing? ….audience dis-engagement and tighter legislation.
What can we learn for the future?
The future is behaviour based.
Google identified “micro-moments” as moments when audiences act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. These are the intent-rich moments, when a customer is highly receptive to engagement with a brand.
To capitalise on ‘micro-moments’ a brand must understand the context which drives this behaviour, and instantly react in the most convenient way possible for the customer with the right message. Such micro-moments can range from a customer searching for ideas on your Instagram feed, browsing your website whilst watching the evening news or reading a marketing email about the upcoming promotion whilst waiting for a train. Fundamentally this understanding is driven by behaviour and not PII. We need to abandon the concept targeting some-one who might have been right person sometime in their past, and repeating the message with the hope they might give, and instead focus on right context, right time.
We need to be less detached in the way we think about digital audiences.
Embrace the concept that that each single number of the audience you select to market to is a person. Each audience member is irritated by the same sort of marketing messages that you are. It’s not a huge leap to assume that if they don’t respond they’re disengaged, so a 2% response rate should be considered in the context of a 98% non-response rate. This begs the question “are we sure this campaign is not pissing of 98% of our audience?”
Recently there’s been much talk of the ‘value exchange’ between audiences providing data and marketers using this data to target. This should go further. Regardless of how you actually target someone; data, context, blanket carpet bombing, your marketing message is taking your audiences time.
Rich data straight into the hands of marketers
At mymyne, we’ve developed a GDPR compliant audience engagement process which allows you to:
• Scale your first-party data collection and add rich data to fully understand your audience.
• Develop machine learning powered real time contextual targeting which can be deployed into your DSP to become part of your programmatic campaign.
Get in touch to find out more.