Success in real-time advertising, given all the challenges affecting how consumers interact with digital media, necessitates that marketers step away from the media planning status quo and adopt a customer-centric, or dare I say it, CRM operating model.
The foundation of real-time advertising is fresh data. The best source of that data is your customers. By placing data at the heart of the process, investing in technologies that connect advertising with customer engagement, businesses have a genuine opportunity to deliver marketing continuity, encompassing all media. This requires a fundamentally different outlook for marketers in terms of how they organise, plan and execute.
The marketing industry has always been obsessed with now. Millennials apparently demand instant gratification, which has come to mean chasing users around the internet using retargeting banners or other viral marketing gimmicks, often ignoring older generations that are wealthier and in Singapore growing proportionally.
Let’s face it, consumers are not clamouring for real-time advertising. They are receptive to advertising that is relevant and contextual at the right moment. ‘Now’ has come to represent more of a panic than a process and that is compromising our connection with consumers.
In the movie Speed, a transit bus is rigged with explosives that will detonate if the bus drops below 50mph. Jack Traven must use his bomb squad methods, skills and teamwork to devise how to defuse the bomb, without hitting the brakes. For real-time to work, today’s marketers must be able to operate at speed by modernising methods, skills and teamwork.
There is no accepted industry definition of real-time marketing. Adobe research in the US in 2013 revealed widely varying interpretations of the term ‘real-time’. Contrary to the article title, I posit that real-time advertising shouldn’t even be a thing in its own right.
Real-time marketing is a capability that utilises multiple data points to drive customer impact by reacting to events and choices made by an individual, virtually immediately. Real-time marketing wraps inbound and outbound channels around a single voice of the customer by connecting in-house marketing technologies with external advertising platforms including DSPs, SSPs and ad exchanges.
Automation, machine learning and AI will undoubtedly transform our industry. Using technology to increase the velocity of marketing overall, without further compromising on quality, means acknowledging larger forces are at play.
These forces create a fraught environment for marketers to decide how to break-through.
Capturing lots of data is not enough, without a framework all that potentially targetable insight will rapidly go cold.
At the risk of sounding terribly old fashioned, the solution lies in respecting how we build relationships as the foundation – The book “Getting to we” provides an excellent reference for principles and behaviours that all marketers can work with, across all disciplines.
I won’t labour the role of next generation CRM. The opportunity is to break CRM thinking out of the ghetto it is often stuck within, which Mayur Gupta at Spotify wrote about brilliantly.
Looking at Gartner forecasts, I estimate that CRM annual software spending in Singapore could reach $400-500m by 2019. In IDC's 2016 Salesforce Economic Impact Model, fully operational CRM creates $1.78bn of revenue for Singapore businesses. At Digitas we help businesses to translate the sales and service application of CRM into marketing excellence.
The development and accessibility of real-time data. This is likely the biggest undertaking and investment for a business. Every organisation needs a big data strategy, unpacking the data supply chain and federating actionable insight to relevant teams, so that they can use it fast.
Capturing lots of data is not enough, without a framework all that potentially targetable insight will rapidly go cold. This leads to addressing the 'analysis gap' – marketers didn’t become data scientists overnight, their analytical skills need to be modernised, helping them to work in partnership with the data team.
Adopt Design Thinking at an organisational level as an iterative strategic framework. Design Thinking is being adopted by more businesses across a multitude of applications to better empathise with customers, elevate the experience and orchestrate communications.
Set and stick with meaningful metrics. Focusing on media efficiency in CPM and CPC is no longer enough. Marketers must represent customer impact, for example branded search, view-throughs, bounce-rate and loyalty metrics.
Expand the role for marketing technologists, programmatic experts, campaign and community managers. Moving fast means having more people at the sharp end of marketing operations. Like analysis, everyone in the marketing team needs to have hands-on technical knowledge. It's no longer feasible to farm this out to technology or IT people.
With all this in place, dynamic and personalised creative is achievable. That means the creative brief also needs to change. It means that less can still mean more. Consumers would be more open to a few variations that offer contextual value rather than an avalanche of messaging variations or salutations. You need gimmicks to market biscuits, that doesn’t mean everyone follows suit. If a user visits a product on your website, why not serve them an advocacy message? If they don’t respond try to build brand aspiration or encourage trial. In other words, experiment!
Like the term ‘digital’ eventually ‘real-time’ will be redundant. Until that time, businesses that invest in having capability to utilise real-time data, federating it access across stakeholders, means that marketing will to operate 360° virtually immediately - when it is mutually valuable and competitively advantageous to do so, built on the principles of a trust-based customer relationship.
Alex Sin, Managing Partner
Alex Sin, Managing Partner