It’s become a somewhat hackneyed expression, but in just 12 months the world has changed beyond recognition. Whether that’s the way we work, the way companies are run, the way consumers behave… normality has mutated.
Brands themselves have had to adapt to this transformation, some proactively, some reactively. But change they must, and it’s no stretch to assert that marketing needs an overhaul, a fundamental rethink.
StackAdapt, the programmatic specialist, has identified three new basics that advertisers need to future-proof their marketing strategy with: from re-evaluating consumer behaviour; re-assessing the limitations of social media’s walled gardens; to re-examining the central pillars for programmatic across planning, execution and analysis.
1. Consumer behaviour: a step-change
Thanks to the pandemic, there’s no question that marketers must pivot their strategies going forward. Consumers have become increasingly mindful of their spending, with a shift towards buying more necessities and a greater propensity to buy less expensive products.
StackAdapt stresses that marketers should now align their messaging with consumer needs and situations, appealing to community-mindedness and rather than attempting to combat fear, instilling a sense of hope and positivity.
The consumer’s focus has moved on to their more immediate social milieu and an idea of togetherness. People are re-evaluating what products to keep buying and what products to ditch, while around half are willing to try alternatives that offer better value or convenience.
“Defensive marketing strategies generally apply to existing customers and certainly have their place," says Christian St.Louis, Director of Solutions Consulting at StackAdapt. "By veering away from defensive tactics and focusing on expanding your customer base, a growth strategy is naturally established. As the old adage goes, the best defense is a good offense."
More than half of shoppers actively look for local, independently owned businesses to support. Marketers should therefore take a more localised approach, connecting with community initiatives, personalising messaging so that it resonates on a more emotionally-compelling human level, and they should adopt more localised creative executions to stand out.
Digital platforms and media have benefited massively during the pandemic, allowing people to connect with loved ones and the workplace, and encouraging people to spend more time searching for online entertainment or to shop online.
As a consequence, online content consumption has grown massively, and brands must act accordingly. According to Kantar research1, “there is very little expectation that brands should stop advertising, with only 8% of respondents identifying it as a priority for brands. As many brands consider ‘going dark’ to save costs, Kantar estimates that a six-month absence from TV will result in a 39% reduction in total brand communication awareness, potentially delaying recovery in the post-pandemic world.”
Ideally, consumers want advertisers to illustrate how they brand can be helpful in the new normal. So ensuring their brand is in contact with consumers at every touchpoint is key.
2. Don’t be cloistered in walled gardens
Literal walled gardens are places where a privileged few can walk the paths of a lush, landscaped environment. They are undeniably seductive. But they are far from representative of the natural world beyond their borders.
Similarly, in today’s media environment – where a walled garden is a figurative term used to describe an enclosed ecosystem over which a platform-owner has ultimate control – it’s easy to be seduced by the captive audiences within. But you’d be missing the bigger picture.
There is an obvious appeal to advertising solely with the likes of Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. Consumers congregate on these platforms in droves, they are swayed into buying decisions by celebrity influencers, converted into purchasing a product by a deftly placed ad. Which is fine. But as a brand, you need to consider expanding your horizons – not everyone is enamoured with or even uses social media.
That said, most people do use the internet. As a brand you’d be missing that audience with a blinkered, social-only strategy. This is where programmatic comes in, with its greater reach and ability to grow your brand. Being digitally present in a myriad of ways means that you’re always present to reach consumers when they are in a more receptive frame of mind.
Programmatic and social advertising are fundamentally the same in that both automate the ad buying process based on parameters set by the advertiser. But the differences are key. The most significant difference (and advantage) is that by incorporating programmatic solutions into your marketing strategy, you will change where your ads are placed.
To bring this idea to life, say you’re a boutique e-commerce brand and have decided to advertise on Instagram, and are even endorsed by a celebrity. Your ad will appear in users’ feeds, looking like a typical post, and many will see it. But you’d be limited to talking to just that audience, some of whom will be far less receptive than others.
However, programmatic advertising can appear across websites, whether by private deal or on the open exchange. More importantly, rather than just splashing out a creative execution or two on a couple of social channels and a search placement, a brand can avoid using the same message without taking into account the stage of the funnel or the targeting, instead adapting the messaging according to the channel.
“Positioning video, display, or native at the top of the funnel can boost reach and awareness, using standard demographic, intent and interest targeting (and including first- and third-party data) to introduce consumers to your brand offering. Ditch the hard sales pitch,” says Andrew Rose, Sales Director, UK at StackAdapt. “Then, moving down the funnel, brands can engage an already invested audience. It’s at this point that your social and retargeting strategies should come into play in order to bring the strands together, with ads more conversational in tone and less obtrusive.”
3. Rebuilding your programmatic pillars
StackAdapt is designed around three core pillars of programmatic: planning, executing and analysing. In just a year, the world has become more digitally focused than ever before, and these pillars have never been more relevant. By tapping into StackAdapt’s open and flexible DSP (demand-side platform), media teams can be more productive and deliver the best results for clients.
RaceTrac knows what that looks like. When they wanted to boost their brand awareness and leave the competition in the rearview, they made sure StackAdapt was in their pit crew. Delivering its brand message to a highly relevant and targeted audience by leveraging robust planning, executing and analysis capabilities of the platform, the RaceTrac campaign reached users with high-quality video creatives with advanced targeting tactics.
“Since this campaign, we've continued to work with the StackAdapt team to generate stronger brand awareness for RaceTrac,” says Veronica Ulicny, Digital Media Planner at Vert Digital.
At the planning stage, brands should use insights to establish the potential impact of their campaign before it launches. StackAdapt’s Planner generates data-driven campaign potential in real-time to gauge how a marketer or agency can best reach consumers via an optimised media mix. Clients are also able to preview video, display and native ads on desktop or mobile across more than 500 publishers with the platform’s ad previewer.
Next comes execution, where advertisers can create, activate and optimise their campaigns across mobile, desktop and connected TV (CTV), using performance data and multi-channel targeting and tracking. StackAdapt’s strategy suite means that advertisers needn’t spend time and money on creating multiple campaigns to address differing tactics. The digital specialist’s tools include creative tactic capabilities.
Lastly, StackAdapt’s AI and machine learning tech mean that campaign performance can be automated; while clients can access a consolidated view of a reporting stack, which in turn integrates with Google Data Studio, TapClicks and Funnel.io.
“It is no surprise that consumer behaviours have shifted, so as marketers we really need to pivot and meet the demand where it is. Your customers are not just on social channels – they’re everywhere,” says Andrew Rose, Sales Director, UK at StackAdapt. “So aligning with their buying habits also means interacting with them in the digital locations where they are buying. Knowing this, you really need to plan your campaign strategy, and partner with a DSP that execute your campaigns effectively. Finally, real-time analysis of campaigns is so important for optimisations, so that you can make adjustments as fast as changes occur in the market.”
StackAdapt is a self-serve programmatic advertising platform where buyers can plan, execute and analyse their data-driven campaigns across consumers’ myriad devices. Providing end-to end client support with analytics expertise and access to creative strategists, the StackAdapt team can identify unique campaign strategies.