Convergence is key: The future of the ad industry lies in building bridges
Today’s advertising industry is changing rapidly, with consumers actively engaging in an ever-diverse mix of online and offline media channels on a daily basis. Individuals now have more control over how, when and where they engage with different media and – as a result – marketing models need to be dynamic and agile to keep up with changing consumer demands.
Over half (53%) of all UK adults now media multi-task on a weekly basis and the average user spends seven hours a day consuming media across multiple screens. In response to this changing behaviour, marketers are seeking to provide a seamless brand experience and deliver consistent messages across all new and emerging channels – whether through traditional, or digital channels including mobile, desktop or tablet. Some retailers, such as Burberry, are embracing the challenge of using cross-channel platforms to drive sales, but for others the prospect of delivering effective campaigns across multiple devices is daunting, preventing them from making the leap to multi-channel marketing.
So, how can marketers embrace the age of media multi-tasking?
The first step for brands is understanding that multi-channel marketing campaigns need to be planned and designed to work across all channels from the outset, rather than operating in silos. The device should never be the starting point for the campaign; instead the goal should be to deliver the right content to the right customer, at the right time, regardless of their chosen channel. Marketers need to be able to identify the media that their most valuable customers are using at any given point and have the agility to focus their efforts on that media in real-time. And with this in mind, convergence technologies that bridge the gap between traditional and digital buying methods are an effective solution to this issue.
But it is the challenge of breaking down these marketing silos that present a further hurdle for the industry – and effective data management is the key to overcoming this. As the proportion of online consumer spending reaches an all-time high – with the latest figures predicting that consumers will each spend on average £4,000 online this year – so will the volume of available information. As technological solutions advance in line with this, increasingly granular data will become available in the marketplace enabling marketers to more accurately target consumers across all devices, rather than taking a channel-by-channel approach.
To benefit from the power of the huge volume of data at their fingertips, marketers need to identify the questions required by their business and use data to provide these answers. To enable this, information needs to be shared across the organisation, and a single, centralised platform should be created so that individual data sets – such as media metrics and sales data – can be connected and overlaid to create meaningful insights that marketers can use to make educated decisions about the content and positioning of ads. This includes using effective tools to enable different media platforms, and the convergence and streamlining of the ad sales process across all channels. The integration of ad servers, data solution providers, supply businesses and technology providers – along with agencies and sellers – coupled with the automisation of all media ad sales, makes it easier for marketers to perform cross-channel buying. Delivering these elements alone would bring marketers one-step closer to a holistic approach to managing and executing their campaigns, as opposed to marketing by device or channel.
Multi-channel is here to stay and as more devices enter the market, consumer behaviour will become increasingly complex. The goal of marketers should always be to deliver insightful campaigns - driven by intelligent data - across the entire spectrum of media channels and devices. Technology that bridges online and offline purchasing and consolidates all the disparate data is a growing necessity for modern marketers. Those who choose to adopt will find that, less of their time will be spent thinking about the channels through which brands are delivering ads, and more about using data in increasingly strategic ways to drive reach and ROI across all channels.