This post originally appeared on MarTech Advisor
Marketers and the digital ecosystem have fine-tuned activation methods that best leverage digital platforms and programmatic technology for direct-response campaigns (i.e., those focused on driving immediate ROI as the primary goal). At the same time, they’ve largely replicated what worked in linear channels, like TV, for branding campaigns. This approach commonly includes focusing activation on maximizing reach against a demographic, executing an unsophisticated supply strategy and failing to leverage measurement against real marketer outcomes to adjust in-flight.
It’s time to move past an approach for branding campaigns that in many cases embrace the lowest common denominator – a holdover from a time when the limitations of traditional channel targeting and execution constrained such campaigns. Every shopper has a problem. The purpose of our branding campaigns is to demonstrate how we solve that problem – reaching consumers who are likely to experience it and maximizing internalization of the message via tactical execution. We will better accomplish this by fully embracing the technological capabilities of programmatic for branding campaigns.
Overhauling Approach to Audience Targeting
The most notable example of replicating practices of traditional branding campaigns in digital is buying audiences and measuring success based on demographics. In traditional channels, this focus was rooted more in history than utility—demographics were the universal mechanism for buying media.
The emphasis on demographics is misplaced. When trying to build perceptions, marketers should target consumers who have a struggle that their product can uniquely solve. That is rarely something bound by demographics. Instead of aligning targeting to the constraints of linear buying, marketers should leverage the full suite of programmatic targeting capabilities to reach consumers likely to experience the struggle they solve for. This includes understanding of consumer interests, where they’ve been, who they are and what they’ve previously browsed/purchased.
Developing a Strong Supply Strategy
There is a belief that branding equals video in digital. As a result, many campaigns are executed in channel silos. For all campaign types, supply selection should be driven by the alignment between inventory type characteristics and the requirements of the brand-consumer interaction.
In most cases, this means video has a primary role in branding campaign execution because of its characteristics as a supply source. Video provides the opportunity to story tell and dramatize the brand’s solution to a consumer frustration or struggle. However, other inventory still has a role under a sophisticated supply strategy. For example, display inventory can play a vital role in fighting message recall decay when sequenced off a video touchpoint.
Better Measurement for In-Flight Optimization
What a marketer selects as the measurement criteria for a campaign has a profound effect on how the campaign is optimized. Common branding campaign measurement has no relationship to the marketer’s strategic intent, including click, completion and demographic metrics. Especially in the case of brand-building campaigns, interim reads from brand-lift research should be the primary criteria by which the campaign manager makes decisions and a marketer judges success. Those audiences and tactic structures that are producing the biggest perception change should prompt bigger bets over time. Percent on demographic target as a success criteria, meanwhile, should be used sparingly or relegated to the past.