When launching an ad campaign, one important decision you’ll have to make is choosing the appropriate platform. After all, you want to be sure that your ad successfully reaches your intended audience.
With a multitude of platforms out there, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you, especially as social media advertising becomes more and more ubiquitous. To help you, we asked the members of Ad Age Collective for some key considerations to make when choosing an ad platform. Here’s what they had to say.
Intent is the most important thing when choosing an ad platform for your business. A platform like Google is used to pull people in because people are already searching for what you’re putting out there. A platform like Facebook or Instagram relies on “pushing” ads in front of people, and it requires a completely different strategy because users need to be convinced you’re worth their time. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE
In such a cluttered world, relevance is paramount. Relevance is the right content and the right context. It’s the ideal balance between effectiveness and efficiency — producing the intended or expected result and performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers
3. The audience you’re targeting
When a campaign is targeting a niche audience, we choose a platform with the ability to get in front of that specific segment. For a campaign targeting a broader audience, we use platforms that can scale and expand our reach through data collection and optimization. – Matt Smolenski, 90octane
4. Connection to key customer insights
Effective engagement is driven by insights about customers. If your ad platform is disconnected from critical insights like which accounts to target, personas on the buying team or where they are in their journey, you’re basically just putting up a ton of digital billboards — it’s a pretty picture and cool slogan, but likely will not generate a ton of results. – Latane Conant, 6sense
5. Potential for acceleration
When dealing with social media ads or PPC, it can be tempting to get lost in a metrics comparison game. The question marketers should be asking is about acceleration: Which platform will accelerate my growth fastest when compared to the same activities conducted organically? Organic efforts tend to have a far higher profit margin so the case for using paid efforts is when growth is needed now. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
6. Whether you can take a holistic approach
Choose an ad platform that analyzes all parts of the campaign holistically is key — not just one component. That’s why working with one agency who does all parts of a campaign, not just one segment, is the best approach. Otherwise, each separate agency will try to fight as to why their portion is working better instead of being truly agnostic to what the best working media is. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
As marketing needs expand by the year, an abundance of leadership roles, from SEO specialists to social media moguls, emerge. Anyone can be named as a manager, but what makes a great leader, particularly in the marketing sphere?
We asked the members of Ad Age Collective to share some necessary attributes for an effective marketing leader. Below, they share 15 characteristics that are vital to the marketing world, and how you can incorporate these attributes into your own leadership style.
1. A deep understanding of the customer
Marketing leaders who understand their avatar inside and out can effectively attract, convert and retain the perfect customer. Understanding current consumer behaviors and motivations while forecasting how future economic, social and tech trends will impact them is critical. Unlimited funds, incredible products, beautifully-designed stores and highly-optimized funnels won’t matter without it. – Maxwell Finn, Unicorn Innovations
2. Audience advocacy
A great marketing leader needs to be a champion for those their brand serves. We’ve heard of servant leaders — now it’s time for “servant marketers.” To do this, one must not only understand customers’ needs, but also offer solutions that are in their best interest over those in the interest of the bottom line. Consumers have many options. If your marketing isn’t a concierge service, you’ll lose them. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute
To be a great leader in the marketing space, you have to be forward-thinking and a visionary, but most importantly you have to be adaptable and able to pivot strategy on a dime. While fast-changing strategic plans are needed, you need to be very stable financially and operationally and not allow the ebbs and flows of the business or clients affect the employees — they should be shielded from all. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
The best leaders I know ask more than they answer. They wonder why, let their minds wander at times and plunge into unfamiliar topics and experiences with a sense of wonder and humility. They’re okay not knowing everything. They’re comfortable with ambiguity. In short, they understand curiosity leads to growth and that gives them the courage to lead people down uncharted roads toward opportunity. – Todd Morgano, Falls Communications
5. Comfort with the uncomfortable
Marketing is an inherently disorientating field. One minute one platform is king, the next minute your tried-and-true tactics no longer work and you have to start from scratch. This can prove stressful for your team, but a stellar marketing leader knows how to steady the ship and remind their team to focus on the creativity that comes with the territory as a source of inspiration and motivation. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
6. Entrepreneurial spirit
New opportunities, data and platforms are constantly disrupting the marketing space. Customer behavior adapts to these changes in real-time. Given that, great leaders need to be open-minded, always looking for better ways to drive results. Success comes from unique approaches uncovered through innate curiosity and problem-solving, with a comfort for risk and testing boundaries. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst
Leaders need to know where the industry is headed and what their team needs to do to be successful. It requires creative thinking and a commitment to innovation. The way people consume information has evolved significantly, and organizations need to find ways to have more relevant conversations with them. Leaders need to point their teams in the right direction and set priorities. – Kevin Dean, Experian
8. Tech savvy
While the fundamentals of marketing remain the same, technology underpins marketing like never before. Today’s marketing leaders to be comfortable in knowing how to leverage technology to solve core marketing challenges, from making their team more efficient to helping drive measurable impact for their organizations. – Amrita Gurney, CrowdRiff
9. The ability to tap into gut feelings
Marketers must balance the quantifiable with a feeling. Some things just feel right, yet are difficult to put into a financial model. While marketers will spend time in performance marketing tweaking programs for incremental improvement, they must also spend time making buyers care. Making people care is a creative challenge that requires buy-in from financially-motivated internal stakeholders. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
Many emphasize being steady, measured and credible in leadership. In marketing, however, given the importance of creativity, impact and an “out-of-the-ordinary” approach to the world, drama has an important place. Not negative drama, but rather a theatrical and emotional representation of ideas, concepts and the importance of what we do. Don’t just go to the meeting — take the stage! – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency
11. An analytical mindset
It’s cliché, but marketing has truly become a sophisticated dance between art and science where data reigns supreme. With an overabundance of information being generated, marketing heads need to not only understand the four Ps, but also be well-versed in data analysis so they can figure out how to gracefully marry the left and right brain to build creative yet performance-first based campaigns. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media
As a leader, having all this innovation at your fingertips is generally a great thing. However, when you, or your team, start to chase those new trends and get caught up in all the noise, you can lose focus on your vision. It’s critical to think long term, develop a vision and stick to it. Don’t get sidetracked by short-term “shiny objects.” – Oz Etzioni, Clinch
13. The ability to understand ROI
Marketing is the most personal form of communication between a brand and a consumer. Success is defined by being adaptable to technological advances like AI and automation. It’s critical to strip away the jargon and hype around technology to understand what’s really driving ROI. Marketers must do homework, test options and make sure technology stacks translate to business value. – Ricky Ray Butler, Branded Entertainment Network
14. Left-brain and right-brain thinking
Marketing leaders must have the ability to switch from right-brain to left-brain thinking seamlessly. Great content is essential to advertising and that is generally a right-brain activity built on empathy and customer understanding. However, marketing is also a numerically-driven science that benefits from data-driven optimization. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
15. An open mind and a hunger to learn
Finding just one attribute is challenging. If I had to share one it would be an open mind and a hunger to continue to learn. Marketing is continuously evolving, new technologies come into play and different generations sway what is relevant. Continuing to learn about what makes consumers tick and testing new ideas can help to expand your knowledge and, ultimately, the success of campaigns. – Issa Sawabini, Fuse
Smartphone usage is higher than ever, with an estimated 5 billion people owning and/or operating a device. With the amount of time the average person spends on their phone each day, there’s a large window of time advertisers could be taking advantage of to get their content in front of their audience.
Tailoring your advertisements to be both user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing on mobile devices makes it easier for users to engage with content on the go. That’s why we asked members of Ad Age Collective to share some simple, yet effective ways agencies can move toward mobile optimization. Their best answers are below.
1. Deeply understand your customer.
To optimize the consumer experience for mobile, agencies must answer, “Who are they, where are they and why are they using this device at this moment?” Because technology enables us to know they’re on a mobile device and where they are, you can deliver the right content and capabilities at the right time, thereby eliminating anything that distracts from the intended path. Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
2. Say less.
Advertising has struggled since its early days to deliver impact with focus. Don’t say everything; say the most important thing. It’s even more essential now when you have only a few words and an engaging image to connect. Know “this.” Do “this.” If you’re successful, they’ll learn more later. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency
3. Keep it quick and easy.
Mobile optimization should always be part of a brand strategy. Creating a mobile interface that is optimized for quick and simple reading with easy buttons to click through to complete the process is key. Also, audio advertising where the user can verbally respond to “learn more” from an ad or Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page ads are gaining popularity as they optimize the advertising experience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
4. Focus on mobile-first creative.
The most effective way to move toward mobile optimization is to ensure clients are focused on creating mobile-first creative, such as 4:5 video, which is supported by both Facebook and Instagram feeds. According to Facebook, mobile-first creative aided recall by 46%. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE
5. Create lite and full versions of your ads.
Agencies and brands alike can optimize mobile campaigns by creating varied lite and full versions of ads that are easily viewable and clearly readable on both smart and feature phones, while maintaining the integrity of the brand message and creative. Along with a well-thought-out audience segmentation strategy, this approach empowers agencies to engage more people with a consistent brand message. Anas Ghazi, WPP
6. Think like a consumer, not a marketer.
So many brands and agencies think too much like marketers when building an online strategy. We need to be concerned about the end consumer’s experience with the brand, more than about getting a message out. If we think like we live, we will always have mobile first in mind. Figuring out how your consumer accesses and uses your brand on the go should be a first step in building any strategy. Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm
7. Develop websites in React.
Creating a mobile app can be expensive, and more consumers are looking for mobile-friendly browser experiences. By implementing React as your front-end language, your site will be responsive and optimized for the browser experience. – Patrick Ambron, BrandYourself.com
With Thanksgiving falling on November 28, the 2019 holiday season is shorter this year. With 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this compresses all festive holiday shopping into a four-week period filled with a variety of marketing opportunities. There may be fewer shopping days, but brands can take advantage of every single one to get the most out of their holiday ad campaigns — if they get started early, that is.
Let’s look at the numbers. During the 2018 holiday season, total retail spending increased by 5.4 percent to $998.32 billion, with both traditional retail and e-commerce thriving, according to eMarketer. Brick-and-mortar sales rose 3.9 percent to $874.42 billion, and e-commerce soared by 16.7 percent to $123.90 billion. Last year’s Cyber Monday racked up $7.87 billion in e-commerce sales, representing the single largest online spending day in history, while Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day also experienced significantly above-average growth rates for online sales.
This year, estimates from the National Retail Federation and Deloitte expect holiday retail sales to increase steadily by around 4 to 5 percent, with e-commerce continuing to pack a heavy punch.
These numbers underscore the importance of the holiday season and holiday ad campaigns for retailers. The growth of e-commerce and the proliferation of new holiday shopping days, such as Green Monday and Super Saturday, put a lot of pressure on brands to leverage holiday fever to craft an omnichannel ad strategy that drives sales. As we approach the holiday season, there are a few critical points brands must consider when it comes to maximizing holiday campaign strategies.
Timing is everything
The first and most important question is when to spend. Timing is everything, and brands should be planning their holiday strategy far in advance. Although we began seeing some holiday promotions as early as October, effective promotional campaigns are up and running by early November to capitalize on early shoppers and to raise brand awareness before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Holiday emails sent early in the season drive two times the conversion rates than those sent later. Getting started early allows you to test out messages and strategies so they are fine-tuned when the holiday season gets into full swing.
Map it out
The planning process should include a preholiday checklist that takes marketers through what they need to know and do to prepare.
The first item is to set your goals: What do you aim to achieve, and what metrics will you use to measure success?
Secondly, look at your calendar to decide what holiday shopping days you want to focus on and how you want to pace the campaign over the course of the holiday season. Will you send out promotions on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or just focus on one? What budget will you allocate for each of those days? Know that many retailers rely on the majority of their annual sales during the holiday season, and understanding competitive marketing, messaging and advertising spend is key to maximizing share of voice during this season.
Third, evaluate past performance. All of these decisions should be made in part by considering the previous year’s performance. If a Black Friday campaign from last year wasn’t as successful as you had hoped, why was that? Would it have been more effective in a different time frame or targeted at a different audience?
The fourth step on the checklist is to give serious thought to every channel. There are so many ways brands can reach consumers these days: display, mobile, search, social, audio, video, connected TV, geofencing, billboards and more. Consumer shopping habits have changed, and even if they do shop in brick-and-mortar stores on major holiday shopping days, they are likely also browsing online, comparing prices and searching for deals and offers throughout the holiday season.
It can be difficult for brands to stand out during these weeks of media saturation, meaning an omnichannel marketing strategy that targets consumers with messages on multiple devices and accommodates multiple shopping patterns is a must-have. It is also key to identify marketing through a national campaign and how much incremental marketing will be needed regionally or locally.
This is just as true for digital brands as it is for brick-and-mortar stores. The boundaries between online and in-store are blurring. Beyond traditional ads, there are new strategies physical retailers can take to drive foot traffic and conversions.
For instance, historic geofencing is a technique to conquest a competitor’s customers by targeting them with a message that pushes them to your store or website instead. With foot traffic attribution, brands can not only connect their digital ads to sales lifts in store, but can also serve ads to shoppers while they are in-store to enhance their shopping experience and upsell them on relevant products.
Stay true to what works for your brand
The final step is to take a good hard look at your brand’s resources and assets. Video may perform better than static ads, but video is also expensive. Brands need to craft strategies that maximize reach without sacrificing quality.
To that end, consider investing in higher-quality private datasets, which may be more expensive but can drive performance with better targeting, and make sure your creative is spot on and has continuity across all media channels.
Go with what works — in 2018, the promotional offers that appealed most to U.S. internet users were price discounts (95 percent), free shipping (75 percent) and free gifts (52 percent). As direct response marketers well know, the offer itself is critical. All the strategizing and optimizing in the world won’t help if the promotional messaging is not compelling.
Ultimately, maximizing holiday campaign strategies boils down to considering what your goals are, what your brand is, what timing makes sense, the media your consumers spend time on and what message is likely to have the greatest impact. Start asking those questions now, ahead of the holiday shopping season, and you will be ready to reap the rewards when November 28 hits.