When I walk into meetings with brands and agencies, I’m consistently amazed by how many manual tasks and antiquated tools are still being used to buy and measure media. For nearly three years, I’ve been obsessed with fighting the notion that marketing departments need to proportionally scale headcount with spend and that media buyers need to spend so much of their time pulling reports and manually aggregating data. However, when relationships with publishers, ad networks and exchanges exist outside of an integrated platform, this state is inevitable.
This reality of fragmented cross-channel media buying is ubiquitous—and its consequences cut deep into any marketer’s effectiveness. For example, most large brands and agencies today analyze media spend on a 30-day, or even quarterly look-back, resulting in inefficient campaigns and unrealized performance. The only way to truly maximize every advertising dollar is to have access to real-time data regarding the sales-related effectiveness of each piece of creative, landing page, channel, publisher and publisher subID. The automated tracking, formatting and calculating of such data within a centralized platform makes shifting allocation to the top performing channels and publishers as easy as a few clicks.
Here are three reasons why every marketer should look into investing in a platform that centralizes their third-party media programs and outbound demand generation efforts.
1. Maximize campaign potential
Marketers strive for campaign accuracy, efficacy, consistency and quality. According to an ExactTarget-commissioned Forrester Consulting survey regarding marketers’ current technology needs, of the seven desired features listed, four are found in any good media-management platform:
- Measurement—tracking standard key performance indicators across channels (44% of respondents)
- Reporting access and flexibility—being able to easily understand cross-channel performance and manipulate reports as needed (38%)
- Real-time optimization—dynamic improvements based on situational data (35%)
- Cross-channel integration—deploying coordinated campaigns across varied channels (29%)
Within a centralized platform, marketers are able to understand cross-channel interplay and optimize campaigns based on a holistic understanding of their disparate parts. Marketers are also able to understand which combinations of campaigns, methods and channels actually worked best and why, providing them with valuable insight when planning future campaigns.
2. Increase operational efficiency
Marketers throw “operational efficiency” around in conversation, when too few have actually invested the time and resources necessary to realize it. Many know that inefficiencies exist, agreeing that current processes are archaic and cumbersome, but little has been done to reform the tedious nature of media planning.
To that end, Namely’s CEO Matt Straz recently wrote an article tellingly titled “The Digital RFP Is A Frustrating Mess.” I agree—RFPs dominate so much of an agency’s time that they’re forced to continually play catch-up, while their core competencies in strategy development and creative design take a backseat. Straz makes a good point regarding time wasted on laborious media-buying processes:
“If you talk to people on both the buy side and sell side of the business, you will hear that the RFP is often the bane of their existence. People who work at agencies are frustrated because RFPs are still largely managed through email. A single RFP sent to a dozen publishers can result in hundreds of emails going back and forth among the parties. Think about that! For a large agency that sends out, say, a thousand digital RFPs each year that means that teams are dealing with over 100,00 emails a year—just about RFPs.”
Marketers shouldn’t have to adhere to legacy processes just because that’s how it has always been done. And the industry certainly shouldn’t have to sacrifice strategy and creative development time in favor of unnecessary manual tasks—simplistic improvements can transform day-to-day operations and secure a long-term future for marketers, maximizing their potential with ad tech.
Marketers can reduce time spent aggregating data for media plans by consolidating fulfillment sources to enable efficient campaign data before, during and after it is executed. Not only does this save considerable time spent aggregating data for media plans, but it also helps to eliminate human error.
3. Improve multi-channel attribution
With the constant adoption of new marketing channels, marketers must understand which method to leverage to best reach their prospects. The seamless cross-channel experience is something worth striving for—if the customer is always right, then it’s crucial to meet them with on-demand content, whenever and wherever they want to connect.
Tracking prospects across channels and over time ensures ad relevance and allows marketers to attribute the correct value to all of the engagement points in the consumer flow, not just the last click. This also allows customers to have a seamless experience across channels while maximizing conversion and engagement potential. With this capability, marketers are also able to augment strategies in real-time as buyers’ behaviors change.
The advertising industry is in the early innings of a massive consolidation; and as with most industries that possess unnecessary manual processes, innovations in software and technology will continue to feed on advertising’s inefficiencies. Just as famed entrepreneur and investor Mark Andreessen wrote about in his WSJ article “Why Software Is Eating The World,”
“More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software.”
I strongly feel that centralized platforms are the next piece of software that will “eat” the advertising industry.