Targeting People is Not Enough Anymore: What You Tell Them is Essential

Majd Alaily / February 2017

The marketing cycle is facing a fundamental contradiction: it is crucial now more than ever to resonate with consumers as a brand, but consumers have zero intention of dedicating any time to what they see as irrelevant, let alone advertising. Learn more about tailoring the right key message.

The internet is saturated. Really. That's it. The amount of stimuli we face daily has reduced our ability to focus to such an extent that you've already opened a new tab while reading this. In the past few years, the proliferation of content online, its availability and the ease of shifting between it is such that it is almost impossible to retain people's attention anymore. We actually receive the equivalent of 174 newspapers in data every day*. So what do you, as an advertiser, do in this case? The marketing cycle is facing a fundamental contradiction: it is crucial now more than ever to resonate with consumers as a brand, but consumers have zero intention of dedicating any time to what they see as irrelevant, let alone advertising. In a world where advertising is perceived as noise keeping you away from your content, how can you break through and build authentic engagement with consumers?

Digital marketing 1.0 : Let's target

The old adage -if old in this case means a couple of years, which is quite fitting in a digital timeline- is that it is essential to find the right people. If you are a brand that has done any digital activity in the past few years, you've been told countless times: targeting, targeting, targeting (things usually resonate better in threes. Bungalo, bungalo, bungalo. See? Magic). This is to a large extent extremely true, marketing budgets need to be spent on the right audiences and it's no surprise that "on-target reach" is becoming an essential reporting metric for campaigns in MENA. If I sell cars, I should probably make sure I talk to people who would want to buy a car at some point. It may sound simple, but simple truths are the most difficult to uncover.

That is now behind us. The ability to target in digital is superior to what marketers are used to in the "offline" world. Thanks to data, you are now able to marry website / app (1st), media owner (2nd) and 3rd party data to create solid profiles of users matching your ideal audience along their journey in the purchase funnel. This is available to everyone, and though at different levels of maturity, largely utilized by advertisers.

Digital marketing 2.0 : Let's customize

The accepted truth (and what we at DoubleClick intimately believe in) is that today, digital success = targeting + messaging (many would add measurement as a third ingredient, which is absolutely true, but for the sake of simplicity, we won’t focus on it in this article. Long parenthesis on simplicity over).

Customizing how you interact with your audiences is what will ensure success. If you are selling a beauty product like Lancome here, and you have six core audiences, such as young mothers, gifting mothers and active women, then does it really make sense to tell them all the same story? Finding the right people is not enough. If you splash these audiences with a generic "buy my beauty product" story, you'll only go so far.

According to recent research, 86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchase decisions, with 62% having chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. The same study shows that personalization can deliver 5x to 8x of ROI on marketing spend**. The data is global yes, but it applies to MENA too. Well, there could be a scenario where people here prefer generic messaging. This is MENA after all. But... that's highly unlikely.

Creative customization, like all great things in life, comes in 3

There are three approaches to creative customization, powered by data and technology:

  1. Storytelling: orchestrating all of your digital creatives in a harmonious story and communication to your audiences. As seen in this excellent case by Maybelline.
  2. Creative decisioning: by using data to decide on the best creative to show depending on the audience, for example, a video for a sports fan or an app banner for an avid gamer. A great local example can be seen here with Du.
  3. Dynamic assembly: the building on the fly of real-time banners (RTB again? Oh no, we barely managed through RTB when it was about bidding) An excellent example of this is McDonald's Japan.

We will cover the first two in upcoming articles, but for now, let's focus on dynamic assembly, a word whispered by all digital marketers at least once behind closed doors in 2016 (not sure if anything happened, but you definitely said it). Dynamic, as it is commonly referred to in media discussions, is the ability to hyper-customize creatives to a limitless degree (seriously, SAS created 1.6M dynamic banner versions. The traditional hurdles towards customization cease to be a problem:

  1. Media space is not constricted, as you are buying impression by impression, unlike a TV spot that scales one creative across audiences, making it impossible to customize.
  2. Decision making is possible, as the creative leverages data such as demoweathertime and datesports resultsgeo and so on to decide on the right build.
  3. Economies of scale are achieved, as there is one banner that continuously assembles itself (SAS obviously did not build 1.6M creatives, but simply one layout).
Targeting people

That sounds amazing, sign me up!

If you've made it all the way here -without falling into the YouTube rabbit hole like the kid in the tab example at the beginning- then congratulations! You must be thinking, ok, how can I get this show on the road?

First, let’s take a step back and consider if dynamic is the right solution for your activity (spoiler alert, it probably is. But take that step back anyway. "Taking a step back" is what makes the management world go round, after all). Second, (and most important) is to find the right creative partner. This can't be stressed enough. Based on our collective experience in the market, the single most important proxy to success in dynamic is having the right creative partner on board, so make sure you have the right people. This will make or break your dynamic experience, which for most advertisers will be their first, so skip the baptism of fire and get to the good stuff.

Final thoughts

In a few years, our formula will change where digital success = targeting + messaging + X (with measurement still there everyone, don't worry). So make sure you're not still trying to master the first bit around targeting. As most marketers now know, the edge will be digital, and the digital edge will be to be on top of the tech.

Thank you. Now here's YouTube.

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