By Dwight Green, Chief Business Officer at AdImpact
By now, the typical modern marketer has embraced several standard operating necessities when it comes to ad marketing — a data-driven approach, an omnichannel mindset, and an appreciation for the underlying technology. Practically speaking, these several things are the new non-negotiables for marketers who prioritize targeted advertising outcomes.
Yet, in 2021, in perhaps the most dynamic ad marketplace in the history of advertising, advocating a data-led, tech-enabled, omnichannel approach is not enough to keep you nimble, ready to compete and win. We have the 2020 election cycle to thank for the unprecedented dynamism and fluidity of ad creative and messaging we are seeing right now. This intricate landscape takes marketers beyond just the fairly standard practices. The bar is not only higher — it moves around the clock.
To capture a share of voice today, brands must be able to pre-empt, react, and place their ads with creative intelligence and precision at the moment; and do so any number of additional times within a brief period. The optimization of in-market ad messaging is forevermore an always-on endeavor. And it’s well beyond, dynamic creative optimization (DCO). This means constantly preventing and eliminating blind spots in real-time. That endeavor starts with strategy and extends into daily practice.
No Shortcuts on Strategy
So what does the strategy for that level of preparedness and follow-through look like? It begins with ensuring the marketing team has a prevailing, deeper understanding, perhaps than ever before, of a few specific elements. Rote high-level analysis can no longer guide such a plan when precision and speed to market are mandatory in order to compete and win.
At any given time, the team will need to implement maximum ad separation between its brand and competitors — placing and pacing ads so as not to diminish impact by wearing out one’s welcome with consumers. In addition, it’s vital to understand the brand’s relevant ad markets intimately and in real-time to allow for strategic direction from the outset and potentially frequent course corrections. This is about considering where your audience and inventory are at a high level and then getting comfortable with assessing and navigating granularity.
And finally, such a strategy hangs on the capacity to monitor channels and platforms used by competitors to keep abreast of opportunities, especially those being missed by others. Choose your tools well, along with the agencies and inside talent to help you leverage those tools.
Science and Tech Applied
The state of the science now allows for monitoring one’s own as well as the competitors’ ads, tracking GRPs, cost per point, air times, messaging, and more — aka the nuts and bolts of the buy. This positions a marketer to understand whether they are spending on programs with low viewership, targeting the wrong audience, or paying higher rates than the average market price.
With real-time data on a brand’s competitors, today’s systems typically have an alert function. Once an alert is received on where competitors are airing ads, info such as markets, stations, cable channels, initial air times, and media types is available at a glance. These dashboards also show air times, helping the brand or its agency assess maximum separation from the competition — otherwise possibly known as elbow (if not breathing) room.
Data inputs and the tools to draw them are hollow if they aren’t used, aren’t understood, or the team doesn’t aggressively apply them to drive actionable results. When well applied, such rich, real-time insights enable a marketer to respond faster to market and advertising trends, creating ads that more accurately represent consumer preferences right now and quickly adjust when necessary. The same intel can be used to zero in on when competition is underspending, or not spending at all perhaps, to gauge white space and opportunities to boost or own share of voice.
How to Stay the Changing Course
Yes, 2020 alone played a number on us and made the ad marketplace much more complicated. It’s never been this dynamic, and it takes next-level diligence to know what the competitors are doing, to be able to pre-empt and react across channels and run one’s marketing effectively.
Yet, in and of itself, this intricacy is nothing to fret. It’s an opportunity to shift. That shift is as fundamental as becoming obsessive about audiences and tirelessly mapping and going where those audiences are. Once you strategically embrace the audience basis and recognize at a very high level the science and tools available to you, the granular rest can follow. With that mindset, you are well-positioned to parlay that focus into ongoing ad messaging footwork.
Even so, the greater opportunity is still forthcoming: with the advent of true omnichannel, multiscreen attribution. The pace of innovation on this aspect is swift and encouraging. What we have been able to do within digital — we can expect to do across CTV/OTT and even linear, one and all. It behooves us to embrace the audience-led mindset now. Because soon, there will be no channel-defined barriers within the media mix, and the ad marketplace will never have been so dynamic. Indeed, it will be next-level, all over again.