The big guns in digital certainly came out fighting last week.
In one corner we had Facebook’s Carolyn Everson calling an end to budgets being focused on search and ‘last point attribution’, and in the other Google joining forces with Comscore to provide real time data that greatly improves their ability to accurately reach target audiences.
Of course this could be seen as two giants posturing over an ever-lucrative slice of the digital marketing spoils, and there is clearly no love lost between the two companies. But dig a bit deeper and both Facebook and Google’s public proclamations actually have far wider implications for our industry.
We all can agree by now that our media world is fragmenting. Whilst we are consuming more media than ever, it is also across a wider selection of channels than ever before. What does that mean for marketers? We need to be able to clearly identify and negotiate this increasing network of channels.
Many consumers often aren’t aware of why they picked one brand over another. Look around and consider your own experience. Which channel turned you from a prospect into a customer? Can you recall a particular sequence of ads that influenced you more than another?
The answer is probably not, so for those in charge of increasing digital marketing budgets this has created a challenge in knowing just where to allocate budgets to ensure optimum effectiveness.
Of course you could throw resources at tracking each channel in real-time, but as both Google and Facebook are acutely aware until now this has created unworkable amounts of time and resource. This means the idea of being able to connect to consumers across all channels via one platform has become very attractive.
What these announcements actually signify is that the future of digital media lies in the ability to provide true cross channel solutions.
The combination of access to the customer journey via one platform with real time re-allocation and predictive modelling has begun to open the door to every marketer’s Holy Grail, the ability to convert easily and effectively across all channels at all times.
And because of this, I’m pretty sure the ability to combine cross channel optimisation (choosing the right ad, at the right time on the right device) with the ability to quickly re-allocate spend in response will be the next big shift in ad tech.
Despite what you might think, more channels won’t necessarily equate to more spend. The key is working smarter and leveraging the data and insights from a single channel to increase the results on others.
It sounds pretty simple, but cross channel is about magnifying the sum of the parts when it comes to data, and not many people are doing it well at the moment. To generate extraordinary results, marketers need to be able to make measuring cross channel amplification a priority.
Being able to properly attribute the value generated to each consumer touch point across the entire marketing journey and all screens is every CMO’s dream.
In the same way that re-targeting reshaped how marketers could achieve better ROI through the use of new technology, “re-attribution” will be the next big thing for driving better results at scale.
Allocation, the final piece of the puzzle, makes old-school marketing look truly antiquated. With allocation based on fractional attribution and real-time optimisation, it is possible to effectively reallocate budget dollars to where they will perform best.
But there’s a catch. As Google knows, without acting quickly to adjust spend and bidding strategies in real time, the model isn’t very useful. Traditionally this has been a labour intensive process yes, but these small advances in technology may well make the world of difference.
Our industry has been focused on ROI since I started in the space more years ago than I care to admit. But traditionally we’ve focused on the “I” rather than on the “R”. Which makes sense, as it is easy to track and report on where the investment is being spent.
However, it’s time our industry started to focus on the “R” to understand the events attributing to conversion or “R”eturn. The last-click model of giving 100% credit to a single event is dead and archaic.
As both Facebook and Google know, your customers are offering you more information about themselves than at any time in history and it’s the smart marketers who are reaping the rewards.