Brands face consumers who wake up to smartphones, move to desktops at work, use TVs, tablets and phones back home during prime time and fall asleep reading tablets or e-readers. The customer journey we have built into our marketing systems and processes no longer exists and this new level of consumer connectedness means retailers must change the way they do their marketing. Top of the list is finding ways to present consumers with a unified message across screens and channels, ensuring that each touch point contributes to a cohesive brand experience.
So how can programmatic marketing technologies help retail advertisers achieve this? In its simplest form, programmatic is an automated technology that delivers the most relevant message to the right person, on the right device, at the right time to achieve a desired action. Prior to programmatic, inventory was sold in blocks, which meant advertisers had no choice but to take the good with the bad in terms of impressions that meet their target audience, content and creative specifications.
With programmatic, you have the ability to make buying and creative decisions on an impression-by-impression basis, resulting in significantly better campaign return on investment and deeper audience insights.
- Programmatic treats every message presented to a consumer as a learning event, asking did the consumer respond?
- Programmatic tracks every aspect of the impression: user attributes, channel attributes, creative used, time-of-day and frequency.
- Programmatic learns who responds the most and in which scenarios.
- All further efforts are focused on those channels, messages, users and scenarios that produce positive engagements.
Programmatic is not a tactic – it is an ever-learning campaign strategy that tests audience segments, channels and creative messages, and responds to results in real-time. Campaign execution merges with market research – advertising is the new form of research – so you know who your best consumers are and how to engage them.
According to Magna Global projections, global programmatic ad spending will top $32bn (£19bn)by 2017. It is no wonder that countless companies are developing and commercialising technologies that extend programmatic more deeply and broadly into the market.
Map the omnichannel customer journey
New technology is making it easier to measure and market to the new customer journey. No one knows better than retail marketers how much the customer journey has changed, or the challenges of keeping up with consumers as they flit from screen to screen along their path to purchase.
Whether a retail advertiser’s campaign goal is to move products off shelves or drive traffic to retail partners, marketers know there are many possible paths a consumer can follow. Attribution modelling helps us understand the most effective ones. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Partner with a buy-side platform to capture and act on the massive datasets available from previous campaigns, such as loyalty cards or coupon downloads.
- Organise actions into a complete set of engagements that drive each conversion.
- Group sequences into logical buckets, display only; display and video; and display, video, mobile.
- Develop CPA and CPM models by channel sequence.
Eliminate channel silos
Many requests for proposals (RFPs) are still for single-channel campaigns, which create silos that disregard the customer journey. Channel silos make no sense in this programmatic era. Dictating how much to spend on each channel will hinder the return on investment (ROI).
Real-time markets now offer massive volumes of display, rich media, video, mobile, tablet and social media inventory. You can execute cross-channel programmatic campaigns at scale but the digital mix should be driven by consumer demand and behaviour.
- Build a full slate of creatives that is channel-agnostic.
- Provide a single-line item budget to your marketing provider and grant permission to spend it across tactics and channels.
- Ask for detailed campaign results to help map out channel influence.
Experiment with multichannel attribution modelling
Attribution is the art of understanding all channels that help convert consumers. Programmatic lets you see the complete set of engagements that drive each conversion.
For too long, marketers have relied on last-click or last-view attribution models. But these fail to represent how consumers who move across channels are reached and influenced. After all, it is unlikely that a user will make a purchase decision after seeing just one ad.
Also, it awards credit to the ad that receives the last click, undermining the upper- and mid-funnel channels that may be crucial to ensuring a conversion. The multichannel customer journey demands channel-sequence attribution.
One of the greatest challenges is understanding and reconciling the different metrics used to benchmark channels. In truth, our industry does not have a ready solution for cross-channel metric reconciliation. So what’s a retail marketer to do?
Simple. Savvy marketers who are willing to experiment beyond traditional attribution stand to earn big gains, namely the insights, metrics and processes required for true customer-centric marketing and enhanced ROI.
Build a long-term customer-centric strategy
Actionable data will help you move from fragmented, uni-channel marketing to a fully customer-centric approach. It gives retail advertisers the ability to extract real insights from data to allow 24/7 conversations with customers and automated decisions on real-time feedback.
Programmatic has moved beyond automated, auction-based digital buying. By using a programmatic approach retailers can truly understand the path to purchase, better engage with prospects and customers, optimise content, develop better buying strategies and glean actionable insights.