30-second summary:Display and video advertising already have tactics that can be highly effective in a cookie-less world. Contextual advertising is going to rise, as users will be in the right state of mind to interact with the brands’ ads. Content sponsorship is going to build strong relationships between brands and consumers, as the values and purpose of each brand will be transmitted to the audience in a non-aggressive sales-y way. Channel integration can become the norm as channels can support each other through insights. User-based targeting will still allow for personalization with the consent of the user.
Let’s face it. The world is going through difficult times, and so is every method of advertising. People are suspicious and don’t trust advertising, thinking that ads may lead to fraud or that advertisers act only to their own benefit and that the consumers will get no value out these promotional banners sitting around the content they visit. They get annoyed when video advertising interrupts their user experience popping up or getting in the way of their desired content.
Things get worse when the ads are totally irrelevant to the user’s interests, which results in total waste of money. Things got a bit better with cookies, as we could target specific audience segments based on their demographics and browsing behavior so that the ads where tailored to their state of mind and interests but in a soon-to-be cookie-less world? Are we back to zero?
Fear not. During the past few years, the targeting technology and tactics became much more sophisticated and we can use numerous methods to target our audiences with relevant only ads and at the same time comply with the new GDPR normal.
Below are five must-have tactics around display and video advertising to smoothly transition to the post-cookie era.
Well, there are no must-dos in life, but realistically these will definitely make your life a lot easier and your ads will create only positive relationships with your audience. Anyway, cookies matching (the process of syncing cookies data so that Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) know that they are dealing with the same user) isn’t exactly perfect. So let’s see the positive side. It’s our chance to get closer to our goal to increase relevancy, please customers, and drive sales.
1. Contextual targeting
Back to zero? Not quite.
Yes, keyword or contextual-based advertising is an old tactic, I am not talking about the invention of the wheel. But: nowadays we can use Programmatic buying. With cookie-based targeting, ads about martech platforms would keep following you around the web. But this is not you. You are more than that. You like fitness, food, minimalism, whatever.
With contextual targeting through programmatic, you will be able to display your ads only when your audience is in a relevant state of mind across hundreds of sites at the same time. So when you’re looking for healthy recipes in food websites, you will see ads for organic products and when you will be reading about the future of digital advertising, you will see ads of a new analytics platform.
So the ads will be relevant to the web environment you’re currently consuming and consumers will feel more comfortable to convert, as they will see the ads as an extension of the content they are already looking at. Contextual advertising works well for all the stages of the purchase journey, as high impact formats (large sizes or video) but also native ads-teasers can be used to increase awareness and memorability and click-throughs respectively.
2. Content sponsorship
Yes. It works. People want to get value from the brands, and this is how they get to trust them. Consuming educational content brings us closer to the bran’s values, we see the world through their eyes and therefore we decide to follow them or not. Have you ever made friends without listening to them talking first?
Especially during the pandemic, people started educating themselves on numerous topics that don’t necessarily have to do with their job. They love reading about how they can make their life easier. And they trust someone’s content especially when they are not trying to directly sell or only sell a product without justifying it. To my opinion, content must be branded but should be consumer-centric at the same time. These are some questions you should seek to answer through your content.What are the benefits of the product/service? How does it fill someone’s needs? Does it add value to someone’s life/daily routine?
This is exactly our time as advertisers to elaborate on the challenges that our audience can overcome by using the product. This is our time to be where our consumers are and consume content, to show that we care, and we give, and this is a win-win game. And that the more we win, we commit that the more we will give.
Brands that get personal like the P&G ads are amazing. Have you seen them? They celebrate women’s/mums’ roles and contributions to society. They speak the truth, they make people relate to the content. Also, going back to my point on the pandemic now, people appreciated it so much the brands that collaborated with each other for a good cause, the brands that offered, the brands that supported also financially the situation.
Why? Because we all want to feel that someone is there for us, that brands don’t care only for their profits. So if I’m going to give my money for a product anyway, I will choose one that we have the same beliefs with.
3. Channel collaboration
And here it comes. Your boss, your client come to ask for channel integrated campaigns. They want to see how everything works together towards the same goal. They don’t like fragmented budgets anymore, as the ad investment comes from one pot and there’s one person managing all the channels so there’s no point in delivering multiple media plans.
Use every channel’s success or failure (this is still a very useful insight!) to contribute to the success of other channels. For example, look at search engine marketing (SEM) like paid search or SEO to find the most successful keywords, and then implement these in your display and video contextual strategy.
In other words, what I strongly recommend is to use the terms that your customers are using in their search before they convert, to open up to new audiences in relevant webpages. This way, you can have an online presence in relevant environments, with high impact display formats and videos to increase awareness when your audience is at the right state of mind.
4. User-based targeting
This is not something new, the big platforms are already doing this and it’s an amazing source of data that I don’t think we made the most of, because we were mostly relying on cookies (that, let’s face it, wasn’t 100% accurate anyway). These data sets are quite accurate as they rely on information that the users give through forms and actions and not on our interpretation of their browsing history.
This is essentially targeting through the user id on the respective platform. Users give their details and create profiles so that they get access to various platforms or make purchases to numerous websites. This way the brand can target the ideal users with cross-device recognition, using first-party data.
Who doesn’t want a consistent experience while interacting with a brand across multiple devices? Again, this is a win-win game when implemented effectively, as the brands do not waste budget while targeting the users isolating every device and at the same time the users are being targeted with the most appropriate message depending on the stage of the funnel that they are. Plus it improves personalization.
5. Sequential targeting
How many times have you noticed a specific car model in the streets after you talked about it for the first time with your friends? It’s not that all these cars magically appeared in front of you after your conversation. It’s that this car is now familiar to you, so it’s easy to notice it. Humans like what looks or sounds familiar. The brain wants to spend as little energy as possible so if it’s something already known, it’s easier to identify and memorize. That’s why we need sequential advertising in our lives.
First-party data allow also for sequential targeting, which is a marketing technique that uses a sequence of ads to tell a story and convince the audience to convert over time, across different devices. The creatives used for sequential targeting should have the same look and feel so that the consumer feels familiar with them and also recalls the brand’s image but should be evolved as we walk down the funnel. The sequence is device agnostic when a user is logged in through their account, which means that shifting between devices doesn’t affect that strategy, it even enhances the experience. Someone may see an ad on their smartphone and then the second in order ad may appear the next day on their laptop.
It has been observed that awareness can be vastly increased through high impact sequential ads. For instance, Google’s research in partnership with Ipsos on sequential videos revealed a 74% ad recall lift and 30% purchase intent uplift compared to standalone video advertising. The sequential messaging drives also high-quality leads as they guide the user down through the funnel to convert.
The sequential tactic is highly effective as most consumers use multiple digital devices before making a purchase or using a service. This strategy increases visibility, as people notice a brand more when its ads appear on multiple devices and they seem familiar, plus you allow your audience to interact with your brand through their platform of choice and it prevents ad fatigue. It’s of no wonder why this tactic presents increasing CTR.
Into the technicalities now
In digital display and video advertising, I would recommend for the sequential path to involve three stages of content.Stage one – the user sees an ad that is usually more generic, it introduces them to the brand or service Stage two – includes ads that educate around the brand or service advertised and present briefly the benefits and happy results of using it
The first two stages should invite the user to learn more about the product and get to know the brand if needed so that they walk through the consideration phase. For these purposes, the first (or second too) stage can well be represented by a video. The videos are well known as being highly memorable and impactful, so this is what the user needs at this stage.Stage three – ad with a strong call to action, an invitation for the audience to use the product and purchase, sometimes even offering a discount
Naturally, the call-to-action in each stage will change depending on what action we want the person to perform (Learn more Vs Buy now).
Therefore, it’s not the end of the world, it’s the end of a technology that worked for long but now it’s time to move on to new relationship structures, just like societies do. Because it’s time for the brands to build honest and transparent relationships with consumers, which is going to lead to stronger trust in advertising. And this is a good thing.
Anastasia-Yvoni Spiliopoulou is a Global Digital Media expert. She has recently launched her new online course in digital display and video advertising for corporates and individuals.