Data gives advertisers the power to fine-tune their campaigns and deliver strong results. Industry experts shared their best advice about advertising data, including methods for collecting it, analyzing it, and putting it to use.
From Karla Crawford-Kerr, VP of Marketing, Hawthorne Advertising.
Don’t just collect data, analyze it continuously.
In advertising data science, it’s not enough to report on the past and present. Data without context only states the obvious—what has already happened. Businesses have spent the past few years accumulating massive amounts of data, with 60 percent-73 percent of that data to go unused, according to Forrester. Big and small data collection is clearly not enough. Data-driven decisions require analysis and insight to deliver value and lead to meaningful change.
To get the most out of advertising data science, marketers need to look ahead and focus on how data can help them make better decisions. Marketers must be open-minded and process-oriented in their Advertising Approach Analysis. This means testing, collecting data, evaluating, testing again, and analyzing to really learn from the data and make tweaks and game changing decisions. This process is a continuous circle in advertising. It never stops. To drive results, it’s important to focus on data from start to finish.
Here are seven steps that advertisers can take to optimize their use of data science.
Understand Audience and Audience Targeting. This means looking at how and where the target audience is consuming media. It’s critical to be medium agnostic. Do not overlook options like CTV based on perceived cost, as it may be an effective extension of linear or digital.
A/B Test. Test everything—messaging, content, and creative.
Test the results. Look at the results of campaigns for attribution and impact. See what worked and what didn’t.
Make data-driven decisions. Look at the short and long tail of conversions (first touch vs. last touch).
Trust your instincts. As a marketer it is important to know when to trust instinct vs. getting bogged down with the data. This could mean calling out false positives or evaluation of results that focus too narrowly on the short term.
More testing. Hone your message and creative.
Optimize spend and investment.
Start again. Understand your audience and audience targeting.
Director of Marketing Technology, Titan 47
There are answers for your cross-system attribution questions.
Today’s marketers have a gold mine of data sitting right in front of them that can be turned into insights with even the most basic of technical skills. A mix of Google Tag Manager, marketing channel APIs, and an object-oriented programming language, like Python, can allow you to accomplish even the most complex of tasks—including cross-systems attribution modeling.
Google Analytics has strong attribution capabilities out of the box, however, what if your main KPIs are simple transactions held in Google Analytics? This is a cross-systems attribution problem. You can use Google Tag Manager to create custom dimensions for the Google Analytics client id as well as your product or lead user ids (if applicable). Using Python and the Google Analytics API, you can extract multiple segments at scale into a data warehouse, such as Google BigQuery. From there, data integration can be performed across your Google Analytics data and your database or CRM. Now, you’ll have pre-conversion user data combined with post-conversion customer data for attribution modeling.
Languages like Python are also great for deploying different statistical-based attribution models once your data is integrated. The sky’s the limit when marketing is combined with technical skills and today’s wealth of knowledge online helps marketers jump right in.
Andrew Van Benschoten
Senior Manager, Data Science, Ovative Group
You can base most of your business decisions on simple models.
The data science field has many flashy technologies such as neural networks and reinforcement learning, but the majority of your business questions can be answered with more straightforward approaches.
Linear regression can get you ~70% of the output from a more complex model, and in 1/10th of the time. And in many cases, the added accuracy won’t change your business decision. I’m going to invest in the marketing channel with the highest-ranked ROAS regardless of whether that number is 5 or 5.1. These simpler approaches also have the added benefit of easier interpretability. Your clients may not understand pooling layers or stacking vs. ensembling, but they can understand that a one-dollar change in channel spend leads to a three dollar change in overall revenue.
Throughout this process you might discover that you need a more complex approach to accomplish your business objectives, and that’s ok! Starting simple provides a perfect framework for conducting auxiliary tasks such as exploring the nuances of your data, thinking through appropriate KPIs, and the like. These critical components are often overlooked if you have to spend your time setting up your GPU configuration or debugging a beta-version ML library. At the end of the day, your goal is not to use the latest data science buzzword, but rather to uncover new insights that drive your client to act.
Owner, Reedy River Marketing, LLC
Data science can’t account for all the intangibles, so figure out the story behind it.
I think the biggest misconceptions about advertising data science are that the datasets have to be enormous, the algorithms have to be complex, and an advertiser’s background has to be extremely technical to make it work. The truth of the matter is that ADS scales based on the data you have to work with, and most importantly, the client’s objective. A lot of the platforms commonly used for digital marketing for a smaller and medium-sized business are already incorporating the machine-learning aspect on the backend. Smart-bidding capabilities, automated rules, and a variety of different conversion techniques are already taking advantage of the machine-learning aspect concerning user behavior and desired outcome.
The next step is to decide the best way to utilize these types of tests in conjunction with more manual data science techniques. There are only so many inputs we typically give to a platform to execute our campaigns. We simply can’t completely relay the intangibles and the human experience fully into the machine. Even if we could, it wouldn’t think, analyze, or optimize exactly as we do. That is why we need to find the best convergence of both, tested together, to ultimately achieve the client’s goals with all aspects of ADS working together as seamlessly as possible.
Finally, it is also extremely important not to get lost within the data. We have more data than we could ever fully digest in most cases. It is too easy to get caught up in treating the analysis like starting a 5,000 piece puzzle versus a beautiful painting that is just missing the last few strokes to complete it. The data is telling us an amazing story, but far too often we simply don’t listen. At least not actively.
Search Manager, GroupM Ireland
Capture the data you need to understand the full ecosystem.
This is one of the biggest challenges and is often overlooked: measuring the level of contribution of a channel in the mix to achieve the right trade-offs by efficiently connecting multiple data points. Let’s see how to bring the pieces of the puzzle together and unlock opportunities.
Data visualization tools are the way to go, as they allow real-time reporting reflecting the maturity of tracking an entire KPI in real-time with a complete vision: based on data-driven models, algorithms and machine learning.
Attribution & Contribution
There is a real awareness on how to use attribution and contribution tools; it is now the norm to value the upstream of the funnel and not only value last-click models. It is demonstrating the necessity of synergies in the wider marketing ecosystems.
Bring That Puzzle Together
Between paid search and TV, the connection is intuitive: the behavior of a TV viewer is predictable and measurable, and the channel cross-synchronization will maximize the impact of TV. But how to prove the efficiencies driven on foot traffic, this is the holy grail that agencies can offer thanks to operational maturity and omnichannel approaches.
Start using the data that the consumer actively shares with your business—think questionnaires, polls to maximize data capturing capabilities instead of fighting the growing chimeras of a zero-cookie internet.
The Way Through The Forest
Clustering and trainable algorithms can assist to find the true way in your forest of data. This can unlock unimaginable patterns and campaign automation with unprecedented efficiencies.
Reach For The Stars
To conclude, don’t forget to feed the top of the funnel to fill the bottom and start maximizing on the cross-channel synergies by taking advantage of symbiotic ecosystems.
Data without context can lack insights as it only states the obvious—what happened, what was measured, what took place. By 2020, there will be around 44 zettabytes of data—that’s enough data to fill 1.3 trillion iPhones. The larger problem is what to do with the data.
Data warehousing, data integration, connectors, data dashboards and more, have all been tools sold by various industries all promising visibility and transparency and transformational change. All of this is eerily similar to the dot-com boom of the late 90s where the promise of a website would suddenly open the floodgates to new conversions and leads.
We need to change the mindset and focus on analysis and insights instead of just data. Here’s how:
Data Analysis Needs To Drive Decisions
Instead of reporting on what is current or what happened, it is important to ask for recommendations of what needs to change. It’s not enough to be shown where your web visits were week-over-week, instead, question why web visits fluctuated in the first place, while finding a solution behind what needs to be done to change that. This kind of analysis requires more than just a chart of visits over time. It requires knowledge of other variables that could factor into that dip. Did the media spend decrease? Did a competitor outbid your search keywords? Was there a new site update that affected user experience? When analyzing data, there should always be a call to action—what needs to be done to change what is currently happening?
Data Analysis Needs To Uncover Hidden Patterns
At times, it isn’t clear the questions to the answers we’re seeking. Now that data has increased in size and number of sources, one can use advanced technologies like machine learning and neural networks to find previously unknown correlations. These will be less obvious correlations between data, and not as simple as media spend vs impressions, or creative type vs conversions. Could there be additional unknown correlations such as Instagram likes vs conversions, or social listening volume vs average order value?
Data Analysis Has More Value In Predicting, Not Reporting
It’s not enough to know the status quo. As of now, all data reporting shows what has happened—even real-time analysis has a delay between the time the action has happened and the time the data has been appropriately captured, labeled, stored and retrieved. According to Microstrategy, “the future of predictive analysis is undoubtedly closely tied to artificial intelligence.” Predictive analysis allows a business to be more proactive than reactive to market trends. They will be able to change the way they work, mitigate risk more effectively, and reduce the spin of scenario planning.
As head of Hawthorne’s Data Science, Information Systems, and IT departments, Justice Erolin manages the technologies, systems, and processes to enhance and run Hawthorne’s product management. Justice has used his 15-year experience in developing and deploying systems and applications to solve urgent business needs for brands including Volkswagen, Sony, Apple, Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, and Anthem.
Outside of work, Justice loves to cook for large groups and will spend up to 21 hours making the perfect brisket.
The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, there are always new trends emerging and and methods evolving.
Those who continue learning and growing will never fall too far behind, but that doesn’t mean they won’t face obstacles along the way. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest industry challenges they’ve faced this past year and how they plan to use that knowledge moving forward.
1. A Changing Corporate Climate
The biggest challenge as a marketing agency that has developed over the past year is watching as corporate positions fill up the digital marketing organization spaces that we dominated as agencies in the previous decade. We believe the opportunity that we’ve had in the past five years will be gone. Rather than fighting this change, we are positioning our firm to assist digital officers as a resource. – Evangeline Sutton, Regenerative Marketing LLC
2. The Impact Of Influencers
We have worked with journalists who were bound by the ethics of journalism to tell both sides of a story for nearly 30 years. Now we are working with influencers with large audiences on social media. The problem in evaluating influencers is who they are being paid by, whether they expect to be paid by our clients and what the deliverables will be if they share our clients’ stories and photos. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications
3. Greater Demand For Personalization
The desire for brands to get more personal in communications continues to grow and presents new challenges. In our business, where email marketing is a big part of what we do, we plan to facilitate more personalization through partnerships with companies such as Conversica, which offers an AI attendant that assists in engaging, qualifying and converting more leads for our clients. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
4. Maintaining Our Buying Power
We made many systematic changes in 2018 to welcome industry changes. In the planning stages, we updated our systems and training materials. We didn’t, however, fully prepare for the level of attention required to regulate our relationships with suppliers as we grow. When picking suppliers, we learned to check for cues that can help us identify those who can grow and meet our changing priorities. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
GDPR was a big industry growing pain; however, having the operations and processes in place to adhere to this regulation make the California Consumer Privacy Act less daunting. It has also opened up a healthy dialog about data, privacy and useful customization across a variety of sectors. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM
6. Standing Out From Our Competitors
Our industry is legal marketing and website design. In our area, we have seen lots of competition come into the market. We plan to face this challenge by producing more educational documents and continuing to set our firm out as industry thought leaders. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
7. Balancing Personalization With Data Privacy
Creating a truly personalized experience while adhering to data privacy and industry regulations proves to be a challenge, like trying to hit a moving target. As we go forward we will be leveraging journey orchestration technology to deliver more relevant customer experiences and a deeper level of personalization than ever before, treating privacy laws as an opportunity to build trust along the way. – Justin Grossman, meltmedia
8. Facebook’s Sponsored Content Changes
At the start of 2018 Facebook once again changed their rules on sponsored content, dramatically shifting how we did business for our clients. We pivoted and ended up with a solution that is exceeding results from before the change. While we’re thrilled with this outcome, we know that we will need to continue to be agile when it comes to 2019, as major platform updates seem to be the new normal. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
9. Educating Clients On New Trends
Influencers have become our clients’ nirvana, even though they most often don’t understand how this new “species” works. We have been educating them and pondering their expectations so they know what they can get and how, and what the difference is between an editor, a blogger and an influencer. Parts of our request for proposal now will be dedicated to some education about it. – Sarah Hamon, S2H Communication
10. Addressing The Industry’s Fraud Issue
Transparency continues to be a critical need as the advertising industry recovers from digital ad fraud. We’re heading off potential distrust from clients by being up front about our commitment to fostering an ethical culture at our agency. After applying for and winning an Integrity award from the Better Business Bureau, we now have an independent third party confirming that commitment. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative
11. Keeping Up With Emerging Platforms
One of the biggest issues out there is making sure that we know about all of the most recent changes to platforms and to content that needs to be made and consumed. One of the most important things is finding the right content and the right platform. That means that it is very important to ensure that you are using the right platform for the right age group that you are working with. – Jon James, Ignited Results
12. Casting A Wider Net
In 2018, we found that the long-term retainer model didn’t work well for certain smaller startup clients, so we developed a project-based program to allow younger brands to experience our services without committing to a long-term relationship. The program has proven a great success and has given companies the opportunity to achieve public relations and social media goals without an ongoing commitment. – Leslie Licano, Beyond Fifteen Communications Inc.
13. Collecting And Analyzing Data
The amount of data continues to expand exponentially. Programming technology and analytics with a machine learning/artificial intelligence component is and will continue to be key because it will become too much for humans to process in a timely or cost-effective way. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC
14. Ensuring Consumer Data Safety And Privacy
Changes in privacy regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are impacting how marketing is done. Consumers expect to know what data is collected and to be able to choose what solutions can and can’t collect their data. Marketers must now be diligent at ensuring safety and giving customers the privacy they deserve while delivering meaningful and optimal customer experience. – Alex Yastrebenetsky, InfoTrust
15. Finding The Right Media Tracking Tools
Our media team did a complete analysis of all optimization and tracking tools on the market to confirm best-in-category practices and results. It was an important, but time-consuming, process. We found some brand-new assets in some niche pockets that will help our clients even more. We now need to tell that story in the year ahead in a simple way without giving away the store up front. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding
When it comes to capitalizing on direct response television (DRTV) advertising, some of the best advice comes from privately held startups valued at over $1 billion. That’s because they’ve seemingly mastered the use of TV advertising that directly engages consumers, from launch to growth.
Successful brands like Experian, Dollar Shave Club and Peloton have used DRTV precisely because it is particularly effective for launching and building brands. They appreciate the fact that you can directly engage with consumers by displaying toll-free numbers and/or website URLs and asking them to take specific actions. They also like that DRTV works across all potential consumer touchpoints, is highly measurable, and makes good use of data. And DRTV seamlessly integrates with their entire portfolios of advertising and media channels, including digital, offline, mail, email, radio, print, etc., yet can still be can be customized, targeted and segmented across all those channels.
In a recentwebinarhosted by the Data & Marketing Association on the basics of DRTV and its expanding role in brand marketing, I had the privilege of talking with champion unicorn marketer, Nick Fairbairn, who is Chief Marketing, Growth & Revenue Officer for Go. Previously, Fairbairn was Senior VP of Marketing at Le Tote and VP of Brand Marketing at Dollar Shave Club.
In our discussion about DRTV, we covered everything from messaging to the importance of metrics. I recommend you listen to the full webinar, but I’ve pulled out what I think are the top takeaways:
1. Take a portfolio approach
It’s gotten harder and harder for brands to earn market share from traditional TV approaches. Because the more common approaches are losing steam, brands need new ways to capture customers’ attention, and DRTV delivers. But don’t forget you can’t shift to a new medium and forget the rest. You have to build and maintain a portfolio.
DRTV is anchored around accountability performance and measurement, and provides for greater customer targeting and segmentation across all channels. That’s why it is becoming a bigger part of brands’ omnichannel campaigns. But it isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the only part.
I asked Fairbairn for his advice regarding the portfolio approach, and he stressed that dependencies on one channel, such as social media, can spell trouble. “What happens when the algorithms no longer work? Or what happens when the creative stops working? In some of these digital channels you have one second to tell a story. In television, you can tell a little bit more of a story. And you can drive response at the same time.”
2. Know your audience
DRTV’s strong data component is driving its growth. Data helps you identify and target the customer, right-size your message for the customer and also pick and choose the right channels and right devices. That’s critical, because the customer journey has expanded.
The good news is DRTV is rooted in strong data, and that data can be used to sharpen your knowledge about current and potential customers and determine the best channel or channels work best for which audience and which marketing campaign. It’s no longer one customer one channel, now it’s one customer multiple channels and multiple devices.
3. Fine-tune your message
Once you know your customer – and again, take full advantage of data to best understand their preferences – it’s time to think about your message. The data can help inform not only the message, but its optimal length and form (short or long) and the right cadence of ads. And how customers consume messaging? You’ll need to consider everything from television to the internet and all the way down to radio and print.
With DRTV, you can take a message and customize for the audience and the channel. That’s important, because the customer journey has expanded. They have choices and are driving their own experiences, and DRTV can help you craft the right message, the right frequency and right channel.
4. Get creative with your creative
Stop the customer before he or she gets up from the couch and walks away. And if you’ve fine-tuned your message (see #3) it’s easier come up with a show-stopping opener. Keep things simple, straightforward and succinct, too.
One question many brands ask is whether to uses a spokesperson. Sometimes, it makes sense. But using spokespeople can be costly and sometimes overtake your message or your brand. Don’t forget the power of testimonials, transformation tales, and imagery.
Fairbairn had some powerful advice about blending visual messaging with audio in DRTV ads, and I couldn’t agree more.
“It’s not just about audio,” Fairbairn said. “People always say to me, ‘You already said it in the spot, so why show it on screen? But there is something about queuing the two pieces together to increase the retention of the message.”
Finally, never end your DRTV advertisement on a weak note. Carefully consider your call to action and brand placement on the screen.
Many common brands have their roots in responsive TV integrated with digital executions. Their strategies and tactics provide great learnings and will provide a great roadmap for the next, great brand launch.
Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target new customers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize customer lifetime value and drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. Contact us to learn more about our expertise by Contacting Hawthorne.
When I worked as a webmaster at AOL in the early days, every employee had visibility into every member’s account. Then in 1999, a naval officer was outed by one of the employees after he logged into an alternate profile with a different screen name. AOL’s course of action was to immediately shut down access to all members’ data and hire an integrity assurance officer. It was a moment of reckoning for online privacy.
I’ve been thinking about that anecdote a lot recently following the revelations about how Cambridge Analytica accessed and deployed Facebook data to impact the U.S. election. There’s been a lot of discussion about how much Mark Zuckerberg knew and whether Facebook should have done more to prevent or stop the data theft. Those are absolutely questions worth considering, but the issue of data theft is nothing new. Tech companies have always created platforms with a certain degree of naivete about the possibility that user data could be exposed or exploited.
As a marketer, it’s important to understand privacy as it is part of the customer experience. In this blog, I’ll tell you about what a walled garden is and why it’s a myth, how to engage with customers, and what a privacy forward strategy looks like for marketing teams & their customers.
The Myth of the Walled Garden
At a recent Videonomics symposium, I heard representatives from many tech companies discuss how advertisers couldn’t get into their “walled gardens.” A walled garden is a closed ecosystem where operations are controlled by an ecosystem operator. The term is frequently used, but based on decades of experience with dot-coms and digital advertising, I consider a myth.
The fact is that it’s very simple for someone to take first and third-party data, link it up and retarget consumers with ads. That information combined with a user’s history can help build a persona around them. Even though Facebook shut down the ability to take data from third-party data brokers, companies can still put cookies on other websites that collect activity from users. They may not know who the person is, but if they have an IP address and can link those two together with Facebook, you get a full 360-degree view. The data that is already out there, whether it’s been released or stolen, can then be correlated and shared.
Moreover, data breaches appear to be accelerating in severity and scale. Breaches at Yahoo, Sony PlayStation, and Alteryx, for example, resulted in compromised data for hundreds of millions of people. All that information is available to anyone. We live in an age of “data promiscuity.” Walled gardens and online privacy are nice to think about, but privacy could soon become a relic of the past, which is why a new crop of data privacy regulations and guidelines are emerging to create a privacy-forward landscape.
Questions around data privacy have particular relevance for marketers and advertisers, who rely on data to improve their targeting capabilities. Robust data allows them to put their ads in front of people and create brand awareness, which helps sell products. Secondly, marketers can use data to put targeted messages in front of people who actually want the product, instead of people who don’t.
However, participants in the advertising ecosystem need to have data integrity assurance incorporated within online platforms that actively works to protect private information. Our industry is making progress towards increasing the capacity to distribute information freely. In addition, the platforms they create to spread this information are very user-friendly. I’m not a programmer by profession, but available analytic tools can be easily configured to exploit private information based on the conspicuously available private data. Cambridge Analytica’s brazen use of a Facebook application to gather insights on millions of users is a prime example of this dynamic at work.
Engaging with Relevant Content
Moreover, Facebook uses a process called content-based targeting, whereby related content and ads are delivered to members based on their likes, shares, and follows. Facebook collects much more data about members’ engagement than what is made privy to advertisers.
Targeting the right audience doesn’t (and shouldn’t) require theft and privacy violations. Data privacy and marketing do not have to be mutually exclusive. Marketers care that an action was created, but not about who created it. All that matters is what the consumer did and why.
Digital analytics and web traffic tools like Google Analytics and Matomo place pixels on a website. The pixel provides timestamp information when an action is taken. Say a commercial aired on Lifetime for a Gerber product. If somebody sees the call to action and types in the URL on their computer or mobile device, then we know what ad they saw, where they were located, and the time and device they used. We also know that a commercial sent a certain amount of money at cost-per-click or per action, which is useful for looking at a marketing budget and figuring out where best media spends are.
A Privacy Forward Approach
In June 2018, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018. The policy grants consumers the right to request the data that businesses collect on them and to ask companies not to sell their data. The law imposes strict rules about how businesses disclose data collected from consumers. It also empowers the state Attorney General to fine companies for noncompliance. Needless to say, it was opposed by major media, telecom and tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. Facebook initially opposed it but eased off after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.
The CCPA was inspired by what is happening in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposed new rules on controlling and processing personally identifiable information, or PII. There was skepticism that the privacy forward principles of the GDPR would catch on in the U.S., but it has, starting with California which is setting the standard other states will soon follow. Dot-coms are following suit as well, as evidenced by the pop-ups about policy changes on what feels like every ecommerce and news site.
These initiatives have entered the term “privacy forward” into the modern lexicon. A privacy forward approach is best described as the guidelines for identifying data that should be considered classified. Classified information includes IP addresses, contact information, and genetic and biometric data. It also encourages organizations that collect personal data to conduct mapping and maintain a 360-degree view. Customer information is not a commodity, but rather a personal bond of trust between an organization and its customers. This also extends to what is shared with outside vendors and third-party data analytic tools and their associated platforms. Transparency is paramount.
In 2001, with the merger of Time Warner and AOL, the FCC ordered AIM, which had over 90% of the market (and thus user data) to become interoperable with other chat platforms. Today, Facebook is participating the Data Transfer Project, a collaboration of organizations, including Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, committed to building a common way for people to transfer data into and out of online services. It’s a big and exciting step towards making privacy forward the norm.
Today’s marketing landscape is broader, deeper and more complex than ever before. There are more channels, more choices and more customers who get more savvy every day. Thriving in this “omnichannel marketing” playground is a balancing act. Companies have to continuously evaluate and strengthen customer touchpoints while delivering a consistent and seamless experience across all channels.
It’s no easy task. My advice? Put the customer at the center, enact a prudent and adaptable plan that focuses on delivering consistency, measure constantly and be willing to take some risks. To that end, here are my top tips for effective omnichannel marketing:
START WITH THE CUSTOMER
Every customer wants to feel like your best customer, and the only way to deliver this is to put your customer at the center of your omnichannel approach. Whether calling in, walking in, shopping online or interacting any way, they expect a personal, seamless and pleasurable experience. Fine-tune all your customer touchpoints so they deliver on this, including social media and mobile sites. And remember, it isn’t just the purchasing experience that matters. Customers expect to be able to research product options (i.e., read product reviews on smartphones while standing in the retail store aisle), access coupons via text or a website, or even contact customer support using Facebook or Twitter. Bottom line: The customer is king — or queen — and every interaction with them matters.
UNIFY THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
In theory, it sounds simple. But maintaining consistency across various marketing channels is an ongoing challenge. The first step is to take a holistic look at all your marketing, advertising, sales and even product return activities. Then, examine each to make sure they are delivering a personalized experience that’s also uniform. That may mean focusing less on individual channel performance correlated to revenue goals or other specific measurements. You may also have to restructure processes and even your organization to eliminate silos and encourage cohesiveness.
Make sure to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. The optimization of cross-screen attribution methodologies allows a marketer to fine-tune creative content advertising by channel and device, as well as identify attribution insights driving media optimization for e-commerce and drive to retail campaigns.
ADOPT INTEGRATED STRATEGIES ACROSS ADVERTISING
Adopting cohesive and well-connected strategies across various advertising channels can lead to greater success. That means integration among digital (online and mobile) and search-engine marketing, television, over-the-top (OTT) content, video on demand, print, radio and display ads. Be sure to leverage multivariate testing — a technique for testing a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified to determine landing page conversions, display ad effectiveness and other important measurements. And take time to review the ways consumers interact with your brand across all platforms. You’ll be able to draw fresh insights into their buying preferences, engagement times and transaction history.
CONTINUOUSLY TRACK, MEASURE AND OPTIMIZE
Collect data and learn how to effectively analyze and use it. It’s not just about having all the numbers and statistics at your fingertips. You can use the data to predict where the consumer is going to be, how they will be buying and how you can reach them in that setting — and at the right time. Use the data to stay ahead of the curve and to not only execute on a one-time basis, but also to duplicate the data in a way that allows you to repeat the successes and avoid mistakes.
I recommend using multi-touch attribution, mixed-media modeling and ingestion of first-party customer data that’s layered with second- and third-party data to provide a 360-degree analytic view, which will connect brands with customers to gain deeper insights. We’ve learned at Hawthorne, through experience, that custom-built analytics tools and methodologies utilizing real-time customer data gives companies insights to optimize marketing strategies.
TEST, LEARN, TEST AND REPEAT
There is no magic formula for omnichannel marketing. In fact, this is one of the most common mistakes companies make as they embark on their own omnichannel strategy. Instead, be prepared to put in time, patience and perseverance to discover the right formulas and implement them. And remember, digital media isn’t a panacea. Sure, you can achieve some quick results with digital media. But there’s no guarantee it will deliver the customer response you’re looking for. Nor does it always help customers find your products or services.
It takes constant tracking, measuring and optimizing. Track the consumer path to conversion across all screens and devices used by the target demographic, from TV to desktop and mobile. Measure the fractional response and weighted conversions that each media channel is individually driving, from linear TV to streaming and pre-roll video. Optimize the media allocation between media platforms to maximize reach, consumer response and ROI per advertising dollar on a weekly basis.
The days of “set it and forget it” media planning are gone. Data are always moving, and weekly optimization is key so use real-time data.
TAKE SOME RISKS
Be on the lookout for — and open to — emerging trends. For example, begin investigating the effectiveness of voice search, especially with the growth of smart speaker sales in the past year. Voice search has a lot of potential in microtargeting a local market. However, technology is still being developed to better optimize search results and the individual will need to learn how to succinctly communicate with the audio device to get relevant results.
By integrating these essential practices into your marketing strategy, you’ll be in a great position to realize the real power of the omnichannel. Just remember: Don’t expect immediate results (patience is a virtue here), and continuously test new techniques and selling strategies before you launch them. And perhaps most importantly, always keep your customers at the center.
Any advertisement that engages consumers and asks them to respond directly to a brand in the form of a click, call or purchase, including but not limited to mailers, billboards, social and display advertisements, emails, texts or calls is known as responsive or accountable advertising. When TV is the medium, it is known as Direct Response TV Advertising, or DRTV.With DRTV ads, brands aim to educate their consumers on the features and benefits of their product, and then have that consumer take one of the aforementioned actions. As a little background — DRTV was born out of infomercial-era ads where products often became household names overnight (literally and figuratively). Famed examples include the George Foreman Grill, ShamWow or the cultural phenomenon, the Snuggie; all these products became million-dollar brands after utilizing this long-form advertising.
Over the last 20 years, the industry has seen a variety of video lengths utilized on TV and the internet, including 30 minutes, 120 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 seconds and 15 seconds. Now six-second pre-rolls are a standard. As society’s attention span get shorter, the advertisements are getting shorter as well, and messaging is more succinct. Industry insiders often claim that TV as an advertising medium is a dying art form, but with a projected $80B to be spent in 2019 (up 9% from 2018), and still 100 million individuals across the US that don’t have broadband internet, TV remains the most potent mass medium of our time.
Turn on the TV, and you will catch plenty of DRTV ads from emerging brands such as Away, Peloton, Hims and UNTUCKit. The reason these companies choose to utilize DRTV is because it is particularly effective for launching and building brands that are looking beyond digital and social channels. With that said, it’s important to note that it’s not just startups using this medium. Well-known brands such as P&G, AT&T, GEICO and L’Oreal all utilize some form of direct response creative or media in their TV advertising. Dollar Shave Club, Chewy, Jet.com, Nest Labs and zulily: each of these direct to consumer brands went from startup to multi-billion-dollar buyout before their 10th birthdays. That’s not all they’ve had in common — they’ve also used mass-reach TV to fuel their explosive growth. To clarify, DRTV isn’t the only marketing mechanisms these brands utilized, but it was a key contributor to their meteoric rise.
The beauty of DRTV, and the appeal for brands, is that it is more affordable to purchase, easier to test into and optimize and more measurable when compared to brand advertising. It is more efficient when it comes to total audience measurement, there are DRTV avails on all major cable and broadcast networks and the ads motivate customers to engage on one channel as well as across multiple channels. Typically, DRTV creative costs are significantly lower than brand advertising. All these benefits add up to faster measurement of campaign ROI.
DRTV is measurable, can be customized, targeted and segmented across all channels and makes good use of data. It also integrates with other media channels, including digital, offline, mail, email, radio, print, etc. Further, its reach and frequency can be maximized across all potential consumer touchpoints.
DRTV has a multitude of advantages, and for more and more companies, it is increasingly becoming the next tactic for startups after they have maximized their efforts on social media and other digital outlets. With creative messaging, frequency and the right channels, DRTV campaigns have the potential to reach and engage potential and existing customers in a relevant, customized manner. DRTV has been used by brands since the 1980s, but we’ve come a long way from the late-night infomercials that hawked wares while most people slept. Today, infomercials as long-form DRTV ads, and now the shorter DRTV spot ads, can be viewed at all hours. They still air because companies see a direct correlation of investment in media spend correlating with company revenue and sales growth. A brand’s DRTV marketing, if done right, pays for itself and generates a positive ROI on the investment. Now, more and more we’re seeing startups and well-known brands employ DRTV — and they too are reaping the benefits.
Bill Cogar is the Director of Marketing at Hawthorne, focusing on new client acquisition and marketing strategy. His clients span a wide range of industries, from consumer technology and CPG to consumer services and e-learning. Prior to joining Hawthorne, Bill worked for the full-service digital agency, Uptown Treehouse, where he was responsible for business development and strategy. His new business acquisitions include UNIQLO, Vans, Holland America Line, SAP Concur, Lenovo and PAX Labs. He attended the University of Virginia where he majored in history with a concentration in globalism and the development of the modern world.
Personalization is now a fundamental feature of any good customer experience. For instance, 84 percent of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. In other words, customers expect brands to remember their names and preferences throughout their customer journey. But marketers have found that when it comes to gathering all that data, conventional methods like web forms, interviews, focus groups, and surveys provide insights into consumer preferences, but they’re usually lacking in accuracy.
Due to the complex nature of the human brain, it has been known for consumers to conceal — perhaps subconsciously — their true preferences and opinions. This has proven true in voice of the customer (VOC) campaigns where brands have attempted to gauge consumer happiness and gather feedback, only to find that customers sometimes gave answers that contradicted their actual behavior.
It’s a question of psychology — as well as a question of context. Maybe you’re talking to a relatively happy customer who’s had an awful, tiring day, and is, therefore, less forgiving of your services at that moment. That’s just one way the human mind can work against marketers trying to gather data, which is why neuromarketing is such an interesting prospect.
What is Neuromarketing, And How Does It Work?
Neuromarketing is a marketing technique that utilizes the application of neuroscience to attain a more accurate reading of consumer behavior. Typical neuromarketing activities include direct use of brain imaging, scanning or other brain activity measurement technology to observe a consumer’s response to certain elements of the product, including packaging, advertising, and other marketing elements. “Neuromarketing is a technique used to improve the effectiveness of marketing efforts by studying the psychology of a company’s consumer base. The goal is to better understand your customers and how your marketing will have an effect on them by tracking their brain activity,” said Jonathan Rosenfeld, Account Executive at Boca Raton FL.-based ScribbleLive.
Kellogg Insights reported that the neuromarketing industry is estimated to be worth around $2 billion — which shows that many brands are taking this data collection method seriously.
PepsiCo’s potato chip brand Frito-Lay is one brand that used neuromarketing to test their products, packaging, and commercials. They discovered that the matte beige packaging picturing potatoes and other healthy ingredients didn’t trigger any activity in the brain that associated with feelings of guilt as much as the shiny bags with pictures of the final product. Based on these findings, Frito-Lay promptly switched from the shiny packaging to the matte beige one.
Bob Clary, Director of Marketing at Lafayette, CO.-based DevelopIntelligence, explained how PepsiCo may have carried out their research. According to Clary, human brain activity can be measured by either functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or electroencephalography (EEG). “fMRI uses a magnet to measure the brain’s blood flow, allowing examiners to access the brain’s “pleasure center” and measuring responses to different audio and visual cues. EEG uses electrodes to measure the electrical waves produced by the brain, which allow examiners to track emotions like sadness, excitement, and anger when exposed to different audio and visual cues,” Clary said.
What are the Advantages of Neuromarketing?
Neuromarketing focuses on the subconscious mind, which is a lot less bias than the conscious mind, according to Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO at Los Angeles-based Hawthorne. Hawthorne-Castro explained the many advantages that neuromarketing enjoys over traditional customer insight acquisition methods. “Conventional marketing methods like surveys, focus groups and observation all have value, but they do have limitations. Consumers are biased, even when they aren’t trying to be. The subconscious mind processes much more information at a quicker pace than the conscious mind, so appealing to consumers based on neuroscience principals offers the ability for marketers to achieve better results,” she said.
Devin Pickell, Content Marketing Specialist at Chicago-based G2 Crowd, added to Hawthorne-Castro’s point by describing how neuromarketing provides a “perspective that quantifies traditional marketing approaches. It gives concrete information to how we, as humans, process information, rather than through the psychological perspective that marketing originally developed from.”
Rosenfeld added that brands can use neuromarketing when, “deciding on new brand guidelines, packaging, prototyping and their overall messaging strategy in advertising.” He also shared that by using the data gleaned from neuromarketing marketers can, “get more out of their marketing efforts as it will be tailored to the emotions of the audience it is received by.”
What Are The Limitations of Neuromarketing?
Conversely, Rosenfeld noted that, while neuromarketing does have its advantages, the operating costs can get “very high”, especially if you plan on using fMRI to monitor the brain activity of consumers.
Pickell also agreed, “Just like any other research method, neuromarketing can quickly eat up monetary resources because of the need for very specialized equipment and research methods.”
Naturally, as with any other technology, the prices for purchasing, leasing, or operating these technologies will eventually fall, making neuromarketing an accessible strategy for medium and perhaps one day small businesses. But the limitations don’t end there.
In addition to the high costs, Rosenfeld mentioned the difficulties in finding the “right personnel” to carry out these studies as another major limitation. “It is imperative that the staff assigned to this initiative possess both a deep understanding of psychology and the human brain as well as marketing as a discipline.”
Why Did You Seek Out A Career In The Advertising Industry?
Patience has never been my strong suit, so finding a career that allows me to see immediate results was a natural fit for me. Advertising provides the best of both worlds – a perfect combination of working directly with clients and leveraging creativity. The best part? You never get bored or stop learning. Diving into each client’s business, you become an expert in their vertical and product category. Additionally, as someone who dislikes waste (wasteful time, resources, money, etc.), accountable advertising is a path that fulfills the desire to reduce waste as we are able to maximize the cost of media and generate an ROI on the media spent. The greatest reward is seeing clients’ businesses grow and watching the executives we partner with flourish in their industries as a result of the campaign success.
What Was Your First Job That Helped You To Get To Where You Are Today?
I started out as a talent agent trainee before becoming a Television Literary Agent for the large firm, WME/William Morris Endeavor. My client management experience and expertise representing individual writers, directors and producers for TV directly translated to the advertising world. As a talent agent, my focus was on growing my individual clients’ careers. In advertising, I had the opportunity to represent a bigger entity –an entire brand.
What Are Your Tips For Preparing For Job Interviews?
I’ve always been someone who is over prepared for job interviews. If I had to narrow down my tips to just the 6 most important, they would be:
Dress to impress – first impressions are everything, and your choices for how you will make a physical impact matter.
Bring a black portfolio holder – pack extra resumes and sample work you’d like to showcase.
Do extensive research – it’s surprising how some candidates rely on their experiences without doing the research to connect the dots. Extra effort and knowledge of case studies and people who work at the company will go a long way.
Don’t stop at preparing for questions they might ask you – prepare questions for them. The biggest red flag in an interview is a candidate who has no questions for the interviewers.
Show that you’re self-motivated – it’s not enough to say it. Share examples of your experiences that speak for themselves.
Be excited – smile, show confidence and enthusiasm. No one is going to give you a job just because you have an impressive resume. People want to enjoy working with you and know that you’ll be a positive, enjoyable extension of the team.
Are There Any Books That Have Helped You Along The Way?
The top book that comes to mind that has helped me grow in my career is Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business by Gino Wickman. Traction is a phenomenal book and philosophy that takes the best elements out of all the business operations and team building philosophies out there and combines them into one holistic platform. It’s a game changing platform for businesses to operate on.
Things Are Changing Very Fast In The Industry, How Do You Keep Yourself Updated?
Please list techniques or newsletter, podcasts, events etc.
I have a news channel on in my office all day to see the headlines. I still scan every email that comes in for industry headlines and events. I attend both industry conferences and those that have a more global perspective (TED, Singularity, etc.) to fuel my brain and future thinking of how our company wants to give back to society as a whole. I read through hard copies of key industry trades, as well as top tier national outlets like Forbes, Fortune and Harvard Business School.
What Is Your Advice For Someone Looking For Job In The Advertising Industry?
Advertising is becoming so much more data-driven than ever before. Creativity and client service skills must be accompanied by background in statistics, programming, data science or math for success in today’s advertising world. If you’re looking for a job in advertising, strive to combine your Right Brain creativity with Left Brain data, and you’ll truly succeed in delivering ROI for your clients.
Why Do You Think You Were Selected Among Other Candidates When You Began Your Career?
Before I started my first job out of college, I had already interned at smaller talent agencies, film production companies, music video production companies and had done computer graphics and editing. I think I stood out from other candidates because I was an artist, but I also knew the business side and how to represent artists and their interests.
What Lessons Have You Learned From Jobs You Were Turned Down From?
Everything is meant to be, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Every job interview is a learning experience and makes you a better interviewee.
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is the CEO of Hawthorne, an award-winning technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand campaigns for over 30-years. Hawthorne has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience