Cross-Platform: Key Questions For the Channel-Hopping Marketer

joannaoconnelrevised"Marketer's Note" is a weekly column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. It is written by Joanna O'Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger Research.  

A recent study released by the ANA (done in partnership with Nielsen) indicates that 50% of marketers plan on dedicating budgets to multi-screen campaigns in the next three years.

This should strike all of us as a great trend: an explicit recognition that user behavior has shifted from single screen content consumption and interaction to a mix of multi-screen and alternative screen behaviors (As I heard Vijay Balan of LiveRail anecdotally share recently: “I told my daughter to “go watch TV”, and I found her in her bed, on her iPad, watching Netflix.”) It’s also crystal clear, however, that cross channel measurement continues to be seen by marketers as a massive challenge. Yes, our digital measurement tools are getting better and smarter everyday, but we still live in a world ruled by massive marketing mix models that dictate spend allocations (a topic for another column).

The study got me thinking about some questions I’d ask myself if I were a marketer building toward this future:

Should it be about cross-screen user-level targeting, or maximizing unique reach? There are a couple key options available to marketers in a multi-screen world: a) running complementary (theoretically simultaneous) messaging across screens to the same user to create a state of “brand immersion”, and, b) isolating pools of unique users by screen to maximize total reach. The reality is there likely isn’t a right answer. What’s really critical is the question is being asked, and the experiments to find out what works for a given brand, initiative, or business goal are being conducted.  This kind of thinking is definitely beginning to happen: during Tubemogul University a couple weeks back, Phil Cowlishaw of Australian agency IKON Communications gave a talk on how his agency is using a programmatic video platform to understand the interplay among TV and video for its clients. This is helping them to build new multi-screen video reach curves, identify the brand lift that can be achieved by exposing users to messaging on unique screens versus across screens and more.  Cool. Now if more folks start behaving this way, we’ll be in business.

How do we organize our agencies around multi-screen video?  The easy answer, that seems increasingly to be the trend – is to make the digital video buyer and the traditional video buyer one and the same. As much as I have knocked TV buyers in the past, it does feel like breaking down the walls between those two groups is a good evolutionary step, if messy and rife with growing pains in the short term (kudos to Amanda Richman of SMG for working hard to push everyone’s thinking here). But expect that some agencies are going to be savvier about this than others, and as the ones whose money they are spending, you, marketers have a responsibility to get informed about what they’re doing, why and how. It could be that your organization’s thinking around “TV” buying is holding your agency back; it could be the other way around.

Who controls the desktop, mobile and tablet advertising that can complement the sight/sound/motion messaging from a video campaign? (This assumes that in three years we’re talking about a mobile ad experience that’s actually good – and not just the teeny, tiny banners that still dominate.*) Either marketers will need to play a much more active role in “conducting the orchestra” of best of breed creative and execution agencies (to borrow a metaphor from an old Forrester colleague, Chris Stutzman), or they’ll need to look at simplifying their roster to a small handful of agencies that are good (if not brilliant) at more than one thing. I know, I know – a debate as old as time. But never before have consumer behaviors and attitudes shifted so drastically so fast – we need to up our game in kind, and fast.

I won’t claim to have answers to the above, nor will I claim I am alone in asking them – but I do think there’s plenty of room for MORE conversation here – and marketers, it starts with you!

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Joanna

*Please save me your outcry, mobile ad shops – I know there are a number of you out there who are building cool mobile ad experiences. But you’re still the exception.

Follow Joanna O'Connell (@joannaoconnell ) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter. 

 

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