Marketers who hoped that their jobs would go back to “normal” as the pandemic subsides are discovering that a whole new normal is emerging, and the rules of the road aren’t quite settled. As per usual, the consumer is largely the driving force behind these trends. They choose how and when to engage with a brand, and marketers have little choice but to meet their terms. But here’s the good news: consumer-led trends are signs that people are more engaged with brands than ever before. For the savvy marketer, the “new consumer” is a great opportunity to build life-long relationships with prospects and existing customers.
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Here are three trends that are shaping digital advertising in the age of the digitally-engaged consumer.
Privacy Regulations are Changing the Data Rules
There’s no denying that the digital ad-tech ecosystem went overboard on data collection. The consumer’s every website visit was captured, and data was used to follow them around the Internet. No one should be surprised that people all over the world rebelled, and demanded that their governments enact laws to protect their privacy.
The overuse of data deprecated the consumer’s trust in the ecosystem, which is problematic for everyone involved. The privacy regulations are slowly but surely rebuilding that trust. GDPR, CCPA and every other regulation grant consumers within their jurisdictions certain rights. When we make it easy for consumers to assert their rights over their personal data, they once again feel as if they’re in control over their information, which increases trust. This trust is an essential ingredient to the grand scheme of the Internet, where advertisers fund publisher content, and in return, consumers agree to share their data in order to receive more relevant ads.
It’s important to recognize that none of the privacy regulations ban the use of customer data. Every marketer is free to use any and all of the data to which the consumer has consented. Consumers are willing to share highly personal data, in some instances even social security numbers are shared with mortgage providers so that they may receive lower interest rates. Going forward, brands need to get really good at articulating the value consumers will reap when they opt to share their data.
Ad Spend is Pouring into CTV
We are living in a Golden Age of television. Groundbreaking shows tackle topics once considered taboo, and shape national conversations. But appointment TV — tuning in on a specific day and time to catch the latest episode — is old school. People consume TV content at the time and device of their choosing. In fact, a Roku/Harris Poll study showed that TV streaming has overtaken linear TV in terms of time spent viewing content.
CTV is a gift to marketers. To begin, due to the popularity of ad-based streaming services, there are plenty of impressions to be had, which means they’re less costly. And as is the case with all digital channels, marketers can test a show or publisher, assess results, and up or decrease spending in order to drive results. In other words, costs and risks are lowered, allowing more brands to participate in TV advertising.
What’s more, commerce is creeping into CTV. Netflix, for instance, has launched an ecommerce store where consumers can purchase show-specific merch such as Cobra Kai hoodies or Emily in Paris sunglasses. This is paving the way for consumers to consider TV as a “normal” commerce platform.
And there are plenty of ways for brands to create multi-channel experiences that tie into their own commerce initiatives. For instance, IP addresses are good proxies for CTV, as every device connected to the Internet is assigned one. When brands associate a user’s smartphone, laptop and CTV IP addresses, they can engage in highly creative storytelling experiences that integrate with commerce.
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ID Graphs are Hot: Expect Consolidation
More and more marketers are testing ID graphs and discovering that they can drive campaign performance. These graphs aren’t a new concept; companies like LiveRamp and Experian have been using them for years to resolve identity across devices, and new use cases are emerging. For instance, many marketers are layering IP data into their ID graphs to gain more nuanced insight into their audience segments.
But as advertisers begin testing them in earnest, more companies are seeking to get in on a hot new market. The number of ID solutions now on the market is remarkable, and speaks volumes about the demand we should expect. But I would hesitate to assume that all ID graphs will perform the same. Some have a much larger pool of IDs than others, and I doubt that all share the same level of accuracy. Marketers should plan to test several options to see which works best for their products and sectors.
I also believe that the market will see some consolidation over the next 18 months, with the better (or better funded) solutions buying up the smaller ones.
There are other trends on the horizon, of course. Contextual targeting is experiencing a renaissance, and publishers are rolling out first-party data solutions for advertisers to deploy on their properties. All of these are new opportunities for marketers to test and compare strategies for connecting with a highly engaged consumer base.