Signal’s Prediction for Digital Marketing in 2016: Advertisers Will Shift Focus from Workflow Efficiency to Targeting Precision

This is the second of eight blog posts recounting Signal’s New Year’s predictions from our in-house panel of digital experts and thought leaders. As part of the recently published report, “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2016 – What Marketers Need to Know Now,” this distinguished panel of specialists addressed the challenges they heard first-hand from media agencies and advertisers looking for long-term efficiencies in their ad spend.

Programmatic media buying has exploded over the last six years due largely to the need for efficiency, and ultimately, reducing costs. Platforms like DSPs and SSPs automate the buying and selling of digital ad inventory, streamlining the workflow and processes involved. A once manually intensive process – rife with negotiations, contracts and sales people—can now be accomplished without speaking to a single person.

The resulting cost efficiencies have driven down ad rates, and almost 70% of advertisers agree that is a top benefit of programmatic.

But the gains that can be extracted from workflow efficiency may soon be hitting a ceiling. If advertisers want longer-term gains from their digital ad spend, they’ll need to increase investment in known vs. unknown audiences – call it “targeting efficiency.” The means to do so lies in a brand’s valuable first-party data.

But the data alone won’t provide true addressability and targeting efficiency. Marketers will have to shift their understanding of first-party data usage away from cookie-based tactics to people-based strategies that require the ability to identify customers across devices and channels, and tie the data back to a user-level profile. Success in this new marketing discipline will hinge on the following:

  • Ownership of data and identity.

    “Renting” someone else’s ID graph isn’t the path to knowing your customer and owning the relationship. An ID graph is a strategic company asset that should be owned and controlled by your brand.

  • Persistent identity.

    Keeping pace with always-on consumers means tying customer profiles to durable identifiers rather than decaying web cookies. Marketers need to recognize customers on a continuous basis at every touch point, understand intent and add insights to build known user profiles that get richer and deeper over time.

  • Real-time speed.

    Recognizing the customer goes hand in hand with the capability to capitalize on live-intent signals. Real-time technology for collecting, matching and activating data within milliseconds can empower you to engage customers at the key moment they’re in market for your product.

  • Data transparency.

    Seeing the whole customer journey, not just a few slices of it, is critical for attribution and measurement. When sharing customer data to target customized audiences, marketers will gravitate toward partners that offer rich, user-level data and insights to optimize the effectiveness of their targeting strategies.

With more relevant messages tailored specifically to an individual identity, marketers can best evaluate the impact of their investment in people, rather than channels or devices. Marketers will redefine efficiency as they reduce waste on the unknown and harness the power of first-party data to fuel better customer experiences, precision targeting, and ultimately, greater ROI.

To read more of Signal’s 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions and the action steps you can take to increase targeting efficiencies, download the report: “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2016 – What Marketers Need to Know Now.”

programmatic marketing predictions for 2016

Originally published December 22, 2015

Blane Sims

Blane Sims was formerly Chief Innovation Officer at Signal where he defined the strategy and roadmap for an award-winning technology platform serving the digital marketing industry.

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