Is The Next Marketing Technology Wave All About Better Creative?
As new content technologies transform the digital marketing landscape, columnist Erika Trautman believes marketers need to hop on board and evolve.
The first marketing technology wave of ad tech has been all about media, placement and timing, focusing on where to put your ad, who to show it to, when to show it. The idea was simple: Leverage web’s technology to target the ad better.
But today, we see diminishing returns from this, as ad blocking and viewability challenge marketers’ ability to break through to customers. Basically, you can lead a horse to water, but…
Not unlike early days in TV advertising, earlier web ads were about the advertiser and ad buyer and not about the consumer experience. The new medium was feeling its way through the opportunity and technology, and at some points, the consumer suffered through that exploration, too.
But, again like TV ads, the medium is evolving, and creative approaches are improving the experience and the performance technologies that appeal to marketers. And, unlike TV ads where measurement is an inexact science, as online engagement increases, it only makes the targeting technology more effective and productive.
Marketers need to evolve beyond expected online advertising to consider content marketing and how to take advantage of the emerging content technologies out there that offer a better experience and deeper engagement for the audience.
Ad Tech: Channel And Ad Optimization Top-Of-Funnel Science
Programmatic ad tech has been the primary focus, as brands invested heavily in technologies that recognize and cross-reference digital behavior across different platforms. The result is “algorithm”-based target marketing and greater transparency to determine how budgets perform by channel.
We can also programmatically optimize ad creative through real-time testing. Ad tech is the science of going after and optimizing clicks in the top of the sales funnel.
It is all about optimizing the “algorithm of the media buy” and “the customer reaction to the bait” (the ad), or the perceived value of the creative content experience that lies beneath the ad.
It’s a valid and necessary technology, but it’s not the whole answer, because it offers an incomplete and somewhat fuzzy picture. At best, brands know that someone clicked on an ad and can only take a most recent click and attribute behavior or a purchase to it, leaving no way to optimize the deeper content experience for the audience.
Instead, marketers need a different kind of tech that goes further: Which of those messages made a connection and drove action? Which one truly spoke to their interests?
Content Tech: The Science Of Going Deeper In The Funnel With Content
Astute marketers are exploring strategies beyond the measurement and optimization of awareness and advertising. They are investing in technology-driven content experiences that center on the consumer.
Better content experiences not only reward the consumer by delivering a deeper, more engaging brand experience, but they also reward the brand with improved SEO, referral traffic, social channel performance and deeper customer insights. In other words, better measurement.
The focus should be on how to optimize the content experience, not the channel or the ad.
Better Creative, Better Content
Technology is emerging that is not about the channel or ad. Instead, the content is the thing.
Innovative content marketing platforms focus on creating better content experiences that the consumer self-discovers through search engines, content alerts and social networks. This flips the focus and optimization from the channel and ad to the content experience underneath and how the value is rewarded by these earned channels.
This paves the way for more resources to be spent on creating more valuable content experiences versus optimized ad creative and paid channel performance.
These technologies make it possible to use analytics to produce better creative that truly engages customers, creates and tracks behavior, permits continuous creative improvement and optimization and opens the door to a new age of storytelling.
New platforms focus on content creation that is interactive and actionable for consumers, encouraging them to discover a brand or their products by navigating within the content, personalizing what they want to see. That mirrors the behaviors Millennials, and indeed all demographics, have come to expect through search engines, alert mechanisms and social networks.
Ad tech’s inability to reflect that experience is part of what is driving more and more ad-blocking behaviors. Conversely, interactive content experiences not only drive deeper brand experiences and engagement, but they also provide a wealth of data and customer insights.
Combining Ad Tech With Content Tech Is The Real Win-Win
We’ve seen ad tech disrupt the marketing space, bringing with it an emphasis on paid media channels and ad creative. Brands are trying to cash in on optimized content through SEO, referral traffic and social channels.
Content marketing platforms like Percolate, Contently, Kapost and Newscred are leading these efforts and giving brands insight into consumer behavior across earned channels — revealing key milestones of a customer’s journey.
Armed with data that helps brands better understand their audiences, brands can turn their attention to creating better experiences where consumers can participate and interact with the content.
Content creation platforms like Ceros, SnapApp and Rapt Media (disclosure: my employer) help marketers develop deeper engagement with their audiences to understand which aspects of the content are most appealing to various user demographics.
The union of ad tech resources and content tech resources exceeds what each tool and resource can do independently, and the result allows brands to better understand their audiences — all the way down to specific customer behaviors.
With this understanding, they can deliver the right content at the right time on the right channel to the right person, creating an impressively individual experience. In the end, the consumer feels understood as an individual — building loyalty for the brand.