Beyond the Bots: Successful Marketing in an Automated World
The world is changing at a rapid pace and with it the consumer journey is increasingly becoming more complex, with a multitude of touch points in which to connect with your audience. With these touch points come vast amounts of data, and to navigate this data, the role of automation comes to the fore.
Automation has the ability to learn and evolve as it consumes more data, and arguably can outperform manual solutions. One such solution, which is currently the poster child for automation, is Google’s Performance Max. It allows advertisers to access inventory across the Google ecosystem under one roof, to drive performance in line with your KPI’s, at a scale beyond the most familiar text & shopping ad placements. Pretty impressive stuff in our eyes, and something that every marketer, and their agency, should be considering, or at least keeping an eye on as it continues to evolve.
The role of an agency in an automated world
With this rapid change in the industry, there has been a shift in how we as marketing practitioners spend our time. But despite advancing technology, Humans + Machines beat Machines operating in isolation. There are a number of specialist skill sets that marketers need to be able to utilise to elevate their campaign performance above what is achievable purely via the off-the-shelf solutions from media partners – and agencies are well-placed to deliver these skill sets.
So, how can advertisers win in an automated world?
Right now, every advertiser has access to the same suite of automated campaigns, ads & algorithms – and in a short space of time, nearly every advertiser will be using them as media partners limit choices. So how can you differentiate yourself to outperform your competitors?
1) Diagnosis & strategy
For the foreseeable future, automation will remain exclusively within the realm of execution; and this means that the need for marketers to accurately diagnose the market, and to then subsequently build a coherent strategy, will not be going away.
Action: Focus on getting to know your customers – what they need and where they spend their time. While automation is doing the heavy-lifting in terms of execution, build a plan that truly addresses your customers’ needs.
There is no shortage of studies to emphasise the importance of creative within an advertising campaign, whether that’s via digital or traditional media. And whilst the exact importance differs from study-to-study, they all agree that well over 50% of a campaign’s effectiveness is driven by the creative alone.
Action: Prioritise creative testing strategies. Do this as part of any campaign or on-going activity and partner with an agency who have creative strategy capabilities to ensure this stays at the forefront of any campaign thinking.
3) Data & targeting
Whatever your ad platform of choice, the bidding algorithm you use will reduce your learning times and allow the machine to make better decisions based on meaningful insights and trends.
Action: Make sure you’re feeding the algorithms the good stuff! Invest time and effort into data strategy & set-up so the most relevant business data is fed into your campaigns, allowing the algorithms to optimise towards your business outcomes.
4) User experience
In a World where media accounts begin to look more and more homogenous, it’s natural that whatever happens outside of the ad interactions will play a heavier role in your success. Having a robust experimentation roadmap in place can help to deliver on this, and provide an ongoing feedback loop between the needs of your customers, and the way you market your product or service.
Action: Test, test, test! Optimising the user journey is often the quickest and most effective way to improve cost efficiency.
Measurement is a critical function within digital media, as it acts as a feedback loop on what is working well and what is not. This guides us as to where we should spend our advertising budget, and no advertiser would disagree on the importance of getting this right.
Action: Build a mega measurement strategy! Include geo-testing, uplift studies and econometrics to gain a real understanding of the incrementality of your media campaigns.
Automation is here to stay, and can be a driving force for advertisers looking for efficiencies in these turbulent times. Advertisers should prioritise their data strategy, creative capabilities and testing targeting options to deliver improved performance, and a holistic measurement approach will help advertisers truly understand the incrementality of their media campaigns.