Technology and Tailored Messaging: Programmatic’s Best 1-2 Punch
EJ HowardSeptember 19, 2014
Think about the last television ad you saw. Was it customized for you, or did it feel… generic?
Broadcast advertising requires painting in broad strokes. The size and diversity of broadcast audiences – combined with high production costs – requires a “lowest common denominator” approach to messaging.
Now, think about the last online ad you saw. Odds are, it’s no more tailored than a typical TV ad.
Audiences are not homogenous. Programmatic buying recognizes this, and allows digital advertisers to differentiate between targeted users and the contexts in which they are reached. To exploit the full potential of programmatic, advertisers must break from a one-size-fits-all messaging mentality. Advertisers must move from “audience targeting” to “audiences targeting.”
What is “audiences targeting”? It’s differentiating between multiple, relevant audiences by recognizing their distinct needs; is a user looking for a Jaguar XJ because of its looks, or because of its performance? Are they loyal Jaguar owners, or are they considering an Audi? Are they just browsing, or have they interacted with the brand in a meaningful way? With audience targeting, you’re serving the right message to the right users in the right place at the right time.
This requires a marriage of technology and creative. Targeting sub-audiences requires the same discipline as any other targeting. Models can differentiate between pre-established niches – for example, “financial services” and “retail” targets for a business services company. Likewise, user behaviors can organically shape different audiences, such as identifying user types more likely to gravitate towards higher-margin electronics equipment. But targeting is not enough. To make the experience resonate for each sub-audience, a tailored message is a must.
Direct marketers have been quick to embrace dynamic creative to boost response. Xaxis has seen significant lift when dynamic and customized creative is employed, and vendors like Pointroll see a five-fold increase in response from dynamic creative vs. non-dynamic creative.* But many marketers only use dynamic creative for retargeting (highlighting a user’s browsed products within the ad) and upselling (highlighting complementary products). This approach has a significant upside for prospecting and upper-funnel tactics as well. Brand advertisers should steal a page from the DR playbook, aligning the key unique selling propositions, imagery, and offers to relevant, distinct target constituencies.
Dynamic creative does require an investment of time and effort to set up. However, identifying the critical steps in a customer journey and developing relevant creative can drive significant incremental gains.
The beauty of programmatic buying is that it enables tailored communication with prospects. However, keep in mind that a brand dialogue requires you to talk with someone, not at someone. By refining your message to speak more precisely to each constituency in your target audience, you can transform your programmatic campaigns into a true brand conversation.
*Pointroll, “Dynamic / DCOBest Practices, May 8. 2013