Performance marketing has seen exciting changes in recent years: the exponential growth in mobile adoption and ad spend, the programmatic media buying revolution and the growth of available ‘big data’. These are changing the face of performance marketing, the effect of which is significant for the future of performance.
These trends make it easy to envisage a future of performance marketing where data enables the ability to predict what a person is going to do in the next hour or day, where this insight is used to aid discovery of products and services most relevant to consumers’ future anticipated needs – all achieved across a plethora of devices, but most notably mobile.
One of the biggest influencers in the performance market today is consumers’ shift to mobile as the preferred device. Mobile internet adoption has grown exponentially, exceeding desktop internet usage for the first time in history in 2014. Across OMG’s global network, our traffic surpassed 50% from mobile devices in 2014. Our India network is a core driver – we’re marketing to a population of 1.2 billion, with 152 million online and 894 million mobile phones in use.
Mobile adoption is fuelling changes in mobile ad spend too. According to the IAB, in 2013 UK mobile ad spend increased 68% year on year, with mobile now accounting for 20% of all digital advertising, fuelled by mobile display, which is growing the fastest at 116%. Brands are embracing this medium and several OMG India advertisers only accept sales from mobile apps, rather than the desktop route, suggesting the future could be a mobile only one.
This shift has changed the approach to media buying. According to the IAB, programmatic accounted for 28% of the total UK display market in 2013, with £500m of display spend traded programmatically. This was forecast to increase to 47% by 2014 and reach 60 to 75% by 2017. On mobile, 37% of display was traded programmatically in 2013.
Programmatic media buying is revolutionising the performance marketing industry. We can use ‘audience intelligence’ to inform automated buying of media in real time based on the perceived value of that impression, or user. By applying statistics and confidence tests to inform decisions, we can identify the chance this customer will convert – probability and propensity modelling in real time. It also makes advertising more memorable through improved relevance. Combined with richer, dynamic creative we can increase engagement and impact.
Premium publishers are embracing programmatic – eBay recently experimented with trading all inventory programmatically, dubbed ‘the week the machines took over’. The Guardian, The Economist, CNN, Financial Times and Reuters have also announced a milestone programmatic deal. What is more, programmatic is moving into TV – Channel 4 is rolling out programmatic campaigns and Google is taking digitally targeted advertising to TV in the US.
None of this would be possible without big data – it’s not just a buzzword, it’s becoming the currency of marketing. With the UK ‘s performance marketing industry generating 10 million clicks each day and 120 clicks each second, there is a lot of data we could collect on consumers’ demographic, transactional and behavioural history.
As we move further into a cross-device, programmatic world, data is increasingly important. We’ll have to build profiles to associate to devices and understand how consumers interact with different media across all their devices.
In a mobile world, people are synched, connected and have an affinity for sharing data – their location and interests. With mobile, the identifiers are unique to the individual – we’re not using cookies on a shared desktop. The mobile platform provides the ability to serve engaging media formats that function like apps – video, voice interaction, social interaction, camera. Mobile ads can deliver greater awareness, purchase intent, brand affinity and message association.
We can create data around the customer – behavioural, interest affinity, age, gender, location, what they like, how they shop, when and where they buy. Traditional customer segmentation will become old school – segmentation will use different digital audience signals and provide more tangible attributes we can use to target to an individual’s device in real time.
Programmatic media buying combined with this data management will mean we can make smarter decisions around what the ‘best’ customers look like. We will no longer buy ‘media’, instead we will buy an ‘audience’ and put the right media in front of them at the right time, on the right device, with the right message.
Data will lead the design of all digital campaigns, driven by first- and third-party data signals, combined with using data to design multi-parametric predictive decisioning. Data becomes fully aligned with advertisers’ marketing and commercial goals – we’ll know who the ‘best’ customers are, predict when they’re most likely to need a product or service and know where and when to put media in front of them on the right device.
The combination of data, rich media and the ability to target individuals means we can target people with products and services relevant to their future anticipated needs.
Can performance marketing keep up?
If data is the marketing currency of the future, the performance marketing industry will need to develop building blocks for data management platforms and data exchanges. This will enable first-party data to be augmented with third-party data and lookalike profiling to identify the ‘best’ customers. Data exchanges will enable prospecting and engagement with the ‘best’ customers via programmatic media buying across mobile, social, video and so on.
To achieve this, desktop-based tracking technologies could become redundant in a mobile world without cookies. The performance marketing industry needs to develop robust cross-device tracking solutions.
Existing tracking configurations aren’t fit for purpose in a multi-device world; managing channel ‘de-duplication’, across multiple devices is a challenge. The performance marketing industry must address this through policies that ensure fair and consistent channel de-duplication to ensure publishers driving the intent to purchase on one device are rewarded, and don’t have sales cannibalised by other direct channels on another device.
There are wider considerations around the legality of data-driven, individualised marketing, and how data on-boarding can work within EU data protection laws. Questions around privacy and EU data protection legislation need to be answered to ensure data on-boarding used to collect first-party data complies with EU data protection law, for example we need to be clear on what data we can legally collect and what we’re allowed to do with it.
Mobile, big data and programmatic trends are starting to dictate the future and the performance marketing industry will keep pace if effective strategies for cross-device tracking, channel de-duplication, attribution and data protection compliance are achieved.
Assuming they are, the future of performance marketing can realise the utopia of predicting what a person is going to do in the next hour or day and using this insight to aid discovery of products and services most relevant to a consumer’s future anticipated needs.