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The advertising industry is at an interesting crossroads, making it a complicated time to be a digital strategist. Traditional channels like Out of Home (OOH) and Meta are still favorites amongst advertising strategists, while advertisers work to navigate the ROI and establish a presence on channels that are still being proven, like virtual reality, AI, and Connected TV (CTV). For some, there is a fear of being the first to dip their toe into something new.
Given the economic outlook, campaign return is under the microscope. While everyone looks to Amazon using AI to power the whole shopping experience and the implications this has from an advertising perspective, and Disney using QR code games on Happy Meal boxes to promote their latest movie and fuse the tangible and digital worlds as holy grails, many brands don’t have the budgets to back campaigns and strategies of this magnitude.
How can advertisers be smart about spending while diversifying their strategy and future-proofing their campaigns? The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s recent panel with the Boston Interactive Media Association (BIMA), “Diversifying Your Media Spend,” which was moderated by Lauren Brickley of MobileFuse, looked at this in detail. Here are the key lessons learned from the esteemed panel.
Our panel agreed: it is critical to fully understand your audience in order to guide diversification for clients, and sometimes the right decision is the safe one, or one that doesn’t try to do a little bit of everything.
Gisela Germano, SVP of Strategy, Communications, Planning & Digital Media, Havas Edge, said that the best way to diversify is to: “Understand how the entire landscape of media is impacting the client, hone-in on consumption appetites, macro impacts changing the category and making informed decisions.”
Sarah Doughty, SVP, Media Strategy, Digitas, added that, “Diversify doesn’t mean try and do a little of everything, it is equally important to be smart and audience-driven.” Jess Dashner, Director of Media Strategy and Operations at Gupta Media, took this one step further by adding that, “Sometimes diversifying a media mix is making decisions that are safer for your brand.” She added that although social platforms have changed over the last few years, paid social ads allow you to pivot quickly when you need to.
For brands that do diversify amongst many channels, the message was clear: your strategy should also involve personalization. There should be a platform-specific strategy for messages and visuals so that things don’t look out of place. Sarah added that Spotify does a great job of this: “They are passion-driven and personalized. People share [their custom Year in Review report] with their friends online, they have ads in the subway, it is quite a mix.”
Jess added that Farmer’s Dog (a dog food company) is another brand that is navigating the media landscape exceptionally well. From Super Bowl ads reaching hundreds of millions of people to gain exposure, they met customers where they are on their journey, asked for information on their dog’s name, their goals, and created very personalized 1-1 connections over email to continue the conversation.
Before planning a media mix or testing a new concept of business model, we got two tips from the panel: Sarah urged advertisers to “pause and ask what you are solving for, use it as a filter to prioritize where you show up,” and Gisela added that it’s important to “find out what the best way to prove that business model is.”
In terms of a tangible cost savings strategies:
The first pitfall to avoid is “pumping the brakes too quickly.” Jess shared that some brands are “tempted to pull spend just hours after a campaign launches if they are not seeing results,” but it is critical to evaluate what you are asking people to take as an action from your campaign and how long that might take. Sarah added the importance of “understanding projections and returns.” While many clients have brand and demand teams, they can’t operate in silos. “There is an education factor, and you have to have a real conversation about the customer journey to determine how to track and optimize all together.”
Another strategy to avoid is comparing yourself against other brands in your industry and what they are doing for their campaigns. Gisela added that the real brands to watch are those that “don’t do things the way they are expected for their category and break the mold while still connecting with their audiences.”
Lastly, Jess added that being too tied to attribution is another trap to avoid falling into. She shared that it can be “tempting to go for whatever you can measure and what is giving you a large number, but make sure you have a nice healthy mix of demand generating and everything in between.” And, specifically for newer approaches like the Black Fox algorithm, “It makes it easy to flip campaigns on and see results, but there is a lot to navigate with this. You can’t see where results are coming from—are they incremental, or scraping the bottom of the funnel? This is a murky area where our industry is at and headed further.”
It’s easy to say that in times of downturn, brands should keep all systems go. In some cases, though, this is a luxury that not all brands can afford. So, they may have a “harder time bounding back,” but that could be their only option. Jess added that in our post-COVID world, there isn’t the same level of pent-up demand for some experiences, goods, and services as there has been, so some clients “need marketing more than ever before and are not getting the sale without grinding it out.”
Gisela added that one risk mitigation strategy is to, “Customize down to messaging and who the audience is to hit groups not as impacted by the downturn.”
Trends are changing all the time, and the pendulum is always swinging—from brands wanting just a few partners, to looking for the cheapest and automated options, to looking to re-imagine old school channels and campaigns. At all stages, the onus is on the digital strategists to keep their clients focused on making data-informed decisions, optimizing by channel, going out with killer creative, and staying true to their brand.
Aug 10, 20236:00pm – 9:00pmMuseum of Science
Jun 06, 20235:30pm – 7:30pmDigitas