At Advertising Week New York (AWNY) this year, it became increasingly clear: Advertisers are evolving from simple KPIs like clickthroughs and last-click attribution to more complete suites of metrics that bring them closer to realizing fundamental business outcomes.
“We're figuring out how to find that signal among all that noise," Xaxis CEO, North America Matt Sweeney said in one panel. “How do you examine, understand how it's impacting your business?"
Speakers at this year's event fueled the hope that the industry is moving toward fulfilling the promise of delivering right message to the right consumer at the right time.
They also demonstrated that the complexities in digital marketing are now being marshaled to deliver those messages in the right format, on the right screen, at the right length, in the right sequence, in the right location, and with the right personalization.
The promise of AI
Some of the biggest advances have come from putting Artificial Intelligence to work to make masses of data manageable.
“Three and a half years ago we built data optimization platforms on top of the DSPs," (the demand-side platforms used in automated advertising), Sweeney said. “That's something that's paying off now [to] find those custom metrics that matter" for partners.
AI is helping advertisers handle streams of inputs from connected TVs, mobile devices, laptops, shopper data providers, location, data management providers, and more, melding it all into a useful mix that machine learning can then interpret to facilitate real-time strategic optimizations.
Attribution gets real
Sophisticated attribution models are handling the multivariate inputs and using econometric science to link exposures to real world actions well beyond a click.
The models let advertisers — even those without an online point of purchase — glean how ad spend truly impacts the bottom line.
“You can use the AI to talk about actual business results," Kathleen Comer, VP, Client Services, The Trade Desk said at the conference. "Who drove a car off the lot? Who bought a shampoo?"
Facilitating omnichannel marketing
Linking exposures across platforms enables advertisers to reach consumers wherever and whenever they consume their media and communicate, and at the right frequencies to avoid over-exposure.
Sequencing across devices can, for example, make sure that six-second videos shown on mobile screens reinforce long-form commercials seen previously on wide screens at home.
Many of the world's leading media agencies are embracing this approach. Stephanie Lackney, Associate Media Director, MediaCom, added: "We see short-form video as a really impactful, measurable, and growing piece of our omnichannel strategy."
Dynamic creative optimization concurrently chooses creative elements found to be most persuasive for the chosen consumer segments.
Influencer marketing was heralded in session after session at the show, from “Influence Across Platforms" to panels like “The Ins and Outs of Celebrity Marketing."
Research discussed at the conference shows, though, that the highest levels of engagement come from niche influencers with fewer than 50,000 followers rather than the celebs with millions.
Influencer platforms promising access to those mid- and micro-tiers showed off their wares. Takumi co-founder Solberg Audunsson presented measurement options that he claims will help close the attribution loop in this emerging arena.
Toward better KPIs
Talking of influencer marketing, Unilever EVP of Global Media Luis Di Como echoed many when he spoke about the importance of matching the influencers to brand values and of looking beyond one-step KPIs to measure their effect.
“We need to move on from this one-all transactional, commercial relationship with ... creators or influencers," he told an audience, as reported in The Drum.
"We are still in the early stages and we need to continue working with influencers to set what measurement and success look like to create a mutual benefit partnership rooted in transparency and trust," he said.
It's a safe bet that calls like that will inform discussions and panels at Advertising Week and elsewhere for many years to come.