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BizReport : Advertising archives : October 23, 2019

Expert: Why targeting isn't always working for brands

Using data to better target advertising to the right consumer is a typical occurrence for most brands and marketers. Yet, many still don't see a return on investment for their efforts. So, is the data wrong? Or is it the way these brands are personalizing ads and content? We asked a digital expert for insight.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: If you asked 20 brands most would likely say they are already personalizing ad campaigns and even recommendations. Are they truly personalizing, though?

Redickaa Subrammanian, Co-Founder & CEO, Resulticks: Not so long ago, when brands "personalized" communications, it usually boiled down to addressing the individual by name and taking into account some basic demographic data. Today's consumers are not so easily impressed. They expect much more than a few targeted emails or social media ads.

Meeting such heightened expectations requires delivering holistic experiences with messaging, channel, timing, offers, and user journeys contextualized and seamless whenever and wherever the individual happens to be. More importantly--and certainly more challenging--brands need to do this at scale for every individual and in real time.

Given this expansive view of personalization, I'd be hard pressed to say that true personalization is actually being practiced by more than a handful of brands--if any--even though most marketers readily acknowledge its importance. There are many reasons for this: an IT environment that doesn't facilitate it, outdated or poorly coordinated technologies, an inability to scale real-time communications, and the list goes on.

But having worked with brands across markets, there's one fundamental challenge that seems to hold a great many brands back. It's siloed data, which results in a fragmented view of their customers and consequently leads to inconsistent communications and irrelevant experiences. Getting the data backbone right is absolutely essential.

Kristina: With so much data available to brands, how are some missing their target markets?

Redickaa: The foundational cause is, as I mentioned earlier, that their data resides in silos. Beyond that, brands can be burdened with processes and technologies that simply do not measure up to the demands of marketing today. In addition to the complexities of integration, brands may to accommodate the scale of data. As a result, they miss out on the valuable insights essential to executing high-impact marketing efforts that require advanced segmentation and real-time experience orchestration.

Brands also have to broaden their thinking beyond outbound campaign calendars and cadence. Sending highly targeted, personally relevant messages is one thing. Being prepared to react quickly and contextually whenever and wherever the customer responds or touches the brand elevates the and clearly differentiates the experience. Doing this, of course, begs the data question as it requires tapping into that 360-degree customer view at any given time, determining the most appropriate response--the next best offer for example, and delivering it to the customer in real time on the channel of choice.

Let me give you a use case of how this works in practice. Mary, a preferred customer of Retailer X always spends a lot of money on her winter wardrobe. During its annual end-of-season sales, Retailer X offers its general customers a 20 percent discount on its winter coat collection. Because of Mary's loyalty, Retailer X offers her a special 20% discount and since she's on the road at the moment, delivers the offer through her mobile app with directions to the nearest outlet.

Kristina: What is the difference between personalization and individualization?

Redickaa: The difference is one of sophistication. Simply put, with personalization, brands are breaking their audiences into segments based on common personal attributes, such as basic demographics and name. Individualization takes segmentation to a higher level that recognizes every customer--even across their multiple digital identities. With such individualized recognition, brands can optimize each interaction in real time and leverage individual preferences and propensities. This continuously elevates the experience to make it truly relevant, contextual, and compelling to that audience of one.

Kristina: Why should brands begin to shift their focus from personalization to individual-based communication?

Redickaa: Brands should individualize because consumers expect it--they want to feel recognized and appreciated, not treated like just another face in a crowd. Those who can communicate with personally relevant information delivered in context have a much better chance of capturing the individual's full, undivided attention.

I saw some research from Accenture recently indicating that nine out ten consumers say they are more likely to patronize brands that recognize and remember them and provide personally relevant information and experiences. The marketplace is too fiercely competitive not to take that data to heart. It tells me that individualization can be a true differentiator.

With today's technology, such individualization is possible. Every person carries a digital presence --email ID, device fingerprinting, social media, and so forth--that can be used as attributes and identifiers to distinguish first-time visitors from returning customers. These capabilities allow brands to enrich their relationships with existing customers with new experiences or engage with new customers to learn their habits or preferences.

Brands must also build or acquire the capabilities to track and recognize customers--and capture experiential data--at every step of their unique omnichannel journeys from first click to conversion to brand loyalty. The result is a constantly enriched 360-degree customer view that encompasses all the detailed, multidimensional audience insights required to power individualized engagement.

Brands can use AI and automation both to scale engagement and to map a customer journey, an innovation we've just recently introduced to the industry. A brand must also adjust the way it measures campaign ROI to improve future experiences for customers.

With robust audience tracking technologies available now, brands are empowered to attribute conversions at the segment-of-one level and enabled to know how much each individual customer spends, when, where, and through which channel. This also addresses what has been the bane of marketers' existence-- the constant challenged to document the value they create.

Tags: advertising, data, data marketing tips, data trends, ecommerce data, loyalty marketing, Resulticks

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