Mobile has changed the game for brands. Previous generations of marketers could only daydream about having the ability to communicate their messages 24 hours a day. However, while this constant access sounds like a dream come true, it has created a number of challenges that marketers are out to solve.
People are accessing content across multiple devices, with platforms and publishers creating a fragmented world that is difficult for marketers to navigate. In order to make sense of this complex landscape, marketers must find better ways to reach their customers and measure their behaviour, otherwise the opportunities of mobile will be lost, according to a panel at Cannes Festival of Creativity sponsored by Atlas by Facebook and moderated by Marketing Week (see the full panel, below).
Speaking to an audience of brand and media experts at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, Erik Johnson, head of Atlas by Facebook, said marketers are failing to adapt from the golden era of television advertising because they no longer have the same control over where their ad is being shown and who it is being shown to.
Media buying strategies
“With television advertising, marketers have an idea about the kind of person the advert is being shown to but when marketers buy ads on an exchange, they don’t know where their advert is going to go,” explained Johnson.
Marketers then get into a cycle of buying more advertising in an attempt to eventually reach the right people, resulting in consumer annoyance over the amount of advertising they are subjected to, he added.
Ashley Friedlein, co-founder of Econsultancy, argued that media owners need to take more responsibility for this approach to advertising and that they are guilty of taking money without creating acceptable ways to serve mobile advertising. He said: “Many media owners desperate for advertising dollars will take more and more advertising and ruin the interface.”
Even if you have the most brilliant creative, transferring an advert onto mobile can slow down people’s browsing, which results in advertising being viewed as an unnecessary annoyance, and that can be extremely damaging for brands that are trying to engage with consumer, he added.
In order to combat this widening knowledge gap, marketers need to deploy better measurement tools. Understanding how consumers use different devices in their everyday lives means you can start planning more strategically, argued Andy Cocker, chief operating officer and co-founder at Infectious Media.
“Fundamentally, there has been a huge proliferation of [media consumption] devices and tracking devices have not kept up with that. It’s difficult to know who you are speaking to. However, if you understand how people use devices in their everyday lives and understand that more specifically in terms of consumer journey, how customers interact and the way people switch between devices, then you’re in a good place to start planning more strategically.”
One solution is to use insight to create fewer, better-quality ads, utilising a big brand idea and filtering that through the entire business (see The power of the big idea, below). Marketers also need to understand the medium they are advertising on and adapt the brand story accordingly.
Johnson shared Facebook research demonstrating that even if a consumer sees only three seconds of an ad, they can find it useful. Almost three-quarters (74%) of people find an ad of 10 seconds or less useful and almost half (47%) find a three-second ad effective. The research shows that marketers need to change the way they tell a story on mobile devices, he added.
“As you move into a measurement world, the way you tell stories has changed. From Facebook we have learned that you can tell the story over multiple interactions because it’s the same person, so you can sequence it in the right way if you get the right ad in front of the right person.”
Data analysis and optimisation
Another challenge facing marketers is the endless amount of data available to them. Johnson said that many are choosing to ignore the available insights that could make their campaigns more effective. “Convincing people that you should look at the data and shouldn’t buy ads blindly is a challenge,” he admitted.
Cocker agreed, adding: “We’re drowning in data all of the time. The good news is we can track with much better certainty, across devices and increasingly across the customer journey to an offline sale, going in and out of apps.”
Working with Atlas’s people-based measurement, Cocker said his client Shop Direct Group has uncovered how its customers are converting from mobile advertising, and this has helped the business to plan its advertising campaigns more effectively.
“The first thing we saw when we implemented [Atlas’s] people-based measurement is that we were missing out on [attributing] a lot of sales that were happening on mobile because we weren’t able to track them. Straight away our campaigns were more effective than we realised.”
The Atlas measurement tool works by tracking people as they switch between devices, enabling brands to see when someone who viewed an ad went on to buy something on another device.
“It taught us a lot and the client a lot about how their audience were behaving and it changes your view about how you strategically plan and create budget for content strategically across different channels. It can change the way you think,” claimed Cocker.
Insight and communication
Atlas’s Johnson added that one of the biggest challenges he finds in communicating the importance of using the right measurement is that when a business moves from using different metrics and uncovers under-reporting of conversions, they do not use the additional insights to their advantage.
“We have a client in the US and we uncovered 30,000 conversions that [it hadn’t seen in its] system before. They said ‘who cares, I had those conversions already; you didn’t help me drive my business’.” Johnson urged marketers to use insight to “fine tune” marketing strategy in order to drive more conversions rather than sitting on newly revealed data.
‘Joining the dots’
With so many devices and so much data, one of the greatest challenges facing marketers today is joining the dots between different metrics and devices. Having clarity means marketers can manage budgets and resources more effectively.
At Direct Line, the business has joined the dots by building an in-house digital services function to piece together the puzzle of people moving between online and offline touchpoints.
“For us, purchase is complicated,” said group marketing director Mark Evans. “One important thing is that people moving from online to offline or web to phone gives you really interesting proxy data for your marketing effectiveness. We have an archetypal customer who goes on our website but doesn’t know the first thing about insurance, so they will call or webchat with us.”
This complex purchasing journey is tracked to enable the business to understand how customers buy its products and enables customers to purchase insurance products in a seamless fashion, according to Evans.
Although the mobile world has created a more complicated landscape, Cocker believes that the advertising industry is armed with the right tools to get the most out of 24-hour customer access. However, marketers need to make better use of the tools available to them to create more effective and engaging campaigns.
He concluded: “There’s still some way to go but with more data than ever we are getting better at helping advertisers to join up the data and draw the right insight from it.”
Using measurement to predict the future
Measurement in its most sophisticated form is being used to understand customer behaviour in order to predict future purchasing behaviour.
Ashley Friedlein, founder of Econsultancy, argued at Marketing Week’s panel debate that the future will look brighter for businesses that take the long-term view of a customer. “I’m excited about lookalike modelling, where the idea is that you can take customers who you know to be of good lifetime value and go out there and try to get more of them.”
Targeting customers based upon their value to the business theoretically means that marketers will make better use of their budgets and will be able to do fewer, but better targeted, advertising campaigns.
Businesses that better understand individual customer behaviour are going to gain a significant advantage over their rivals, admitted Mark Evans, marketing director at Direct Line Group. He believes that having detailed pieces of information about individual customers can completely change the way you do business.
“One of our competitors is targeting and pricing for people who look for coasters that you put under sofa legs. [This is] indicative of a maintenance mindset – they will look after their house better – and a better risk for house insurers.”
However, brands must be careful, when identifying and using granular behaviour to target customers, that they do not cross the line and cause consumer mistrust, Evans added. “People might say ‘hey I don’t want to be priced on what I do in the real world’ and it is a double-edged sword because there are data protection issues. But the ability to understand how people really live is a marketer’s holy grail.”
Direct Line Group: The power of the big idea
The biggest problem facing the advertising industry today is that “there is a lot of crap out there”, said the defiant Direct Line Group marketing director Mark Evans at Marketing Week’s panel debate at the Cannes Festival of Creativity, sponsored by Atlas by Facebook.
Digital platforms have opened the door to brands having more ways than before to communicate their messaging. Many, however, are abusing that opportunity with advertising that tries, metaphorically speaking, to hit consumers over the head with a hammer.
A massive £2.6bn was invested in mobile advertising last year, according to an Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure report, up 60% against a general advertising spend increase of 10%. At the event, moderated by Marketing Week editor Russell Parsons, the entire panel lambasted poor-quality advertising that plagues the digital world. Although spend has increased rapidly, much of that is money down the drain, according to Evans. “I would hate to think how much of that £2.6bn is wastage,” he commented.
To avoid this, he urged marketers to focus on generating a “big idea that galvanises the entire organisation through all touchpoints”. At Direct Line, the big idea is that the brand is a ‘fixer’ for consumers in times of distress, and the business and marketing strategy centres around this brand purpose. “That’s what insurance is all about,” explained Evans.
One of its campaigns focuses on fixing young people’s driving. “You’re more likely to kill somebody in an accident in your first year of driving – that’s a big problem in the world and for us it’s a big problem as we have claims of £10m or £20m when people put passengers or themselves in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives.”
Direct Line’s solution has been to feature YouTube star Alfie Deyes in a series of videos influencing young drivers to improve their skills. Deyes has telematics installed in his car, which measures how well someone is driving. The 22-year-old, who has more than five million subscribers on his PointlessBlog, has released films of himself using the Direct Line DrivePlus app to complete various tasks, including parking.
Evans said the campaign, which targets 17- to 19-year-olds, has been a huge success for the insurance brand. “We have nearly doubled our brand preference in that cohort and increased consideration by 26%.”
He urged marketers to be “ultra discerning because it’s so tempting just to get in and do something and spend some money”.
Often, marketers use branded content to tell their audience about products, but Evans said this is a big mistake. “My big take away is that people don’t share content because they love products. They share content with their friends and loved ones because they want to make their friends cry or laugh.”
Fellow panellist Erik Johnson, head of Atlas by Facebook, agreed and said that all too often marketers are taking the wrong approach with digital advertising, focusing on how many ads they can hit their target audience with rather than creating fewer, more effective ads. That is in part because brands are not using the right metrics to assess the success of the campaign.
“Marketers say: ’I want to spend a certain number of CPM [cost per thousand impressions] and I want to spend more than X to get my message out there.”
Instead, Johnson argued that if marketers focus on how an audience engaged with an advertising campaign across devices, they would be able to understand the return on investment of a piece of creative. “Hopefully, we can create a world with high-quality creative and fewer ads.”
Russell Parsons, Editor
Ashley Friedlein, Founder
Erik Johnson, Head of Atlas
Atlas by Facebook
Andy Cocker, Chief operating officer and co-founder
Mark Evans, Marketing director
Direct Line Group