Why It’s Time to Revert to Back-to-Basic Innovation

By Anna Forbes, UK Country Manager at Azerion

The events of the last few years have had a massive impact on the expectations and priorities of consumers. This has meant the advertising industry has had to, and continues  to, contend with unprecedented change. We’ve seen the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine, and shifts in social responsibility have a significant bearing on the way people are choosing to live their lives and, in turn, how brands are choosing to respond.

Some brands have been able to quickly benefit from these circumstances, with the rapidly changing landscape providing them with a platform to engage with customers that may have previously been out of their reach.

However, most brands have had to come to terms with the world being a different place to just a few years ago, and now having to acknowledge the fact that reaching and engaging with audiences now has to be done differently to what they had become accustomed to.

To protect and grow their market share, brands now need to act quickly in finding ways to navigate the increasingly complex digital ecosystem and establish new ‘best practices’ around their consumer engagement.

While this may seem like an uphill battle, this approach doesn’t require a complete overhaul of tried-and-test methods. Although the advertising industry has historically thrived from looking at the future for the answers in the next innovation, a point has now been reached where there is much to learn by looking back as well. A blend of long-term brand building and short-term performance can still be achieved but – though broader product innovation remains important – it requires a back-to-basics approach to innovation, where brands return to focusing on perfecting the following fundamental areas of their frameworks.

The power of data in audience discovery

Brands should be looking toward utilising a considered data-led approach to discover who their target audiences really are, rather than just relying on traditional demographic segments. With the current changes in customers priorities having a noticeable impact, the targeting precision and quality of the sets of data a marketer utilises is now crucial for the performance of the campaign.

As the ways in which people are buying and the factors that influence their decisions have changed, new nuances have recently emerged between consumers within these segments. Time has moved on, and so have the people buying products and services.

Boosting engagement through relevant creative

Data can have a significant role to play in not just the targeting of ads, but in the content of ads as well. It’s been known for some time that creativity makes up almost 50% of a campaign’s effectiveness. But that creativity has to be backed by data – something many brands currently miss out on within the digital landscape.

The only way for the industry to build more effective ads is to be led by data that helps brands to resonate with changing audience behaviours. If the content being displayed isn’t understanding and respectful of the needs of the modern consumer, campaigns could prove to be detrimental to a brand, however attention-grabbing they may be.

Focusing on the most appropriate outcome

As advertising budgets are under more scrutiny than ever before, every impression has to be working harder. In uncertain times, narrowing down the number of KPIs allows a larger part of budgets to be allocated on what generates the largest return of investment. Therefore, brands should be focusing on the most important KPI, rather than the outcome deemed most fashionable at the time.

For instance, a campaign aimed at generating new leads shouldn’t also place an emphasis on measuring awareness and/or attention. Whatever the goal may be, the industry needs to be challenging measurement platforms to back up their claims and benchmark data, because it’s the only way to continue delivering effective digital advertising.

Embracing inevitable change

It’s becoming increasingly clear that for brands to truly understand their audience, going back-to-basics is the most innovative approach to take.

Digital has always – and will always – be an industry led by product innovation. Due to the unique challenges facing the industry today, such as coming out of a pandemic and into a cost-of-living crisis, what brands once thought they knew about their consumers has shifted drastically. It’s necessary for brands to focus on innovation to ensure the fundamental areas are being met,  which requires a better understanding of consumers’ current situations to inform more accurate targeting strategies.