The rise in ad blocking is continuing to cause major concern for advertisers and publishers who stand to lose ad effectiveness and revenue if they can’t curb this trend. Ad blocking has grown by 41% globally year over year, according to Pagefair’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report. Even in the face of smarter programmatic advertising (software-created, specifically-targeted advertising) algorithms and massive databases storing information on industries, businesses, consumers, and everything in between, ads are still falling flat with your audience–where the use of ad blockers is clear evidence that something needs to change.
Solving this problem isn’t about trying new tricks to get around ad blockers, blocking users who employ the software, or making seemingly desperate pleas to convince people to tolerate ads (e.g. The New York Times recently went all in with an appeal to its readers, developing a pop-up ad that essentially begged them to stop using ad-blocking software). Better ad performance calls for, quite simply, better ad creation and that’s where personalization comes into play. Publishers and advertisers can take programmatic advertising a step further with personalization. Doing programmatic personalization properly calls for significant shifts in the way advertisers build their creatives and how they determine who sees what. Let’s take a look at the two major shifts that marketers need to make:
Personalize Based on Data, Not Assumptions
At its core, personalized content of any kind may seem like a pipe dream for those marketing to large databases. But your buyers need more than a generic message if they’re going to tolerate your ad content, let alone engage with it. With advancements in marketing technology, you can serve tailored content to target audiences across channels, from your website to your ad channels and beyond. This technology, like Marketo’s digital ads app, enables you to engage customers across their entire lifecycle and tell a continuous, relevant and personal story based on the activity and engagement of your audience member from other channels.
Companies currently store massive amounts of data in publisher platforms and data management platforms (DMPs), never mind the personal customer and profile data already stored in their marketing automation database. The critical component is to use all of this data to deliver ad content that is truly relevant to the individual user–not just similar users–at the right time, by first organizing data stores and then analyzing them to derive actionable insights that drive strategy. Programmatic personalization creates and serves content that matters to your buyers based on their unique profile data, web behaviors, previous transactions, and any other data points available–in a precise and timely manner that is the essence of successful ad delivery.
Recommend the Next Best Action, Not the Next Best Offer
Frequently, programmatic ads display content designed to generate more sales immediately, even if a purchase was made just days–or even hours–beforehand. But personalization helps advertisers create more meaningful interactions with a “next-best-action” approach, rather than a “next-best-offer” approach. The next best offer is all about driving an immediate, second sale. In this case, a customer made a purchase and then is served ad content trying to sell related products or other items that appealed to other customers who made similar purchases. Whereas, the next best action restarts the process from the beginning. When a customer buys something, subsequent ad content aims to improve their experience with the product or help them use it more effectively (e.g. an instructional video).
Advertisers should consider each customer relationship as a story and each purchase as a chapter. When a customer buys something, they likely don’t want another overt sales pitch for the next interaction. As such, your personalized content needs to nurture them and consider where they are in the customer lifecycle, rather than calling for another purchase immediately. Sure, there’s always a good chance a customer will capitalize on a promotion or sale right after making a purchase, but the overwhelming probability suggests another kind of content will work better. For example, if a customer’s last purchase was a tool set for a dorm room, content about decorating dorms and small apartments will likely be more valuable to them than direct offers for more purchases. When brands shift to a next-best-offer approach, they encourage further sales by becoming a part of their customers’ lives–a trusted resource rather than just a store.
Shift Now, Not When It’s Too Late
The time for companies to augment programmatic with personalization is now. Marketing technology is emerging from major players that makes personalized content a reality. Many of these organizations currently possess a significant amount of industry, market, and customer data. For them, the next move is monetizing this information and developing new marketing and advertising technologies aimed at personalizing each interaction.
As more technology for programmatic personalization enters the market, it’s critical for organizations to take advantage of it instead of sticking to the status quo. Programmatic advertising without personalization has driven countless people to install ad blockers. Because of this, neither advertisers nor publishers have seen the results they want. The consequences of continuing to ignore personalization in digital advertising are too significant too ignore. Once programmatic personalization technology becomes pervasive, organizations will see customers who not only accept ads, but also are more engaged with it and loyal to the brand.
What other changes do you see in the works for more effective programmatic advertising? Share your thoughts in the comments below.