Over the past year or so, we have seen some noticeable trends that are picking up steam across clients. Some of these trends are behaviors we are driving due to our belief in the value and the solutions we have put in place to address. Others are purely driven by market forces and great minds landing on the same conclusions.
Examples of these trends include:
Feed management and optimization – As more channels become data feed dependent, advertisers are seeking ways to not just manage their data feed quality and reliability, but to also tailor feeds to create unique advantages within the media platforms. As feed management is a mature space, there is plenty of room for innovation. This is why we developed Storeroom, our feed management and optimization platform. Our investment in this platform and the competitive advantages it creates, make this a conversation we are leading with clients.
Audience management and innovation – Clients are seeking new ways to unlock their first party audiences as a competitive differentiator as custom audiences across media platforms. However, clients have encountered challenges in the logistics in terms of encryption of data, segmentation of that data, onboarding of that data into media platforms and refreshing that data in a timely manner. These challenges are what drove us to develop our Audience Management Platform. Another example of technology we have developed allowing us to spearhead the conversation and provide our clients with a unique differentiator in a highly technical marketplace.
Experiment design and testing – A surprising trend is the wave of clients raising their hands for advanced methodologies and executions of experiment designs and tests. For approximately the past 9 months, clients have been coming to us with a desire to test and learn at a greater frequency. The impetus behind this is a client seeking to advance from bottom-of-the-funnel tactics to top and mid-funnel media tactics such as awareness programs, product launches and audience expansion. While we have always operated a test and learn mentality in our programs, this conversation around advanced experiment design and testing drove PMG to develop products and tools that meet this demand. Investment in technology and services such as a random assignment tool, enabling random assignment of an audience, campaign, or placement to create a structured experiment with minimal impact to portfolio performance, or a causal inference solution designed to identify causality in a test interaction are examples of PMG reacting to client demand…but reacting with gusto.
The Site Analytics Breakup
Most notably, a market change that is underway appears to be the relationship that advertisers have with their site analytics platforms. Specifically, advertisers seem to be evaluating their current solution and also making the move to new platforms after long tenure on their existing solution. Understandably, making a change to a site analytics platform is typically a large and complicated endeavor. Outside of the normal complexity of swapping out enterprise software, site analytics platforms have established themselves as a very common “marketing source of truth” in which the organization reviews marketing investments under the lens of what the site analytics platform says it is.
Based on conversations with advertisers, this market change appears to be driven from the following factors (and actually creates a nice list of boxes to check if you’re going to do a review):
Cost of ownership – While not a new concept in the investigation process, advertisers are more focused than ever on efficiency and bottom-line performance. To that end, advertisers are looking to consolidate what was a myriad of separate solutions into one technology stack. For example, an attribution strategy that requires multiple or pure-play solutions continues to be harder to justify. So while pure-play attribution platforms do carry unique differentiators and advantages, the out-of-the-box attribution capabilities of site analytics platforms continue to make up ground. What’s more, site analytics platforms that do attribution reasonably have an inherent advantage. They can blend advertising and site-based behavior into one unified view. This becomes a better solution to the question of “Once I know the optimal combination of media touch points, how do I manage the site experience to extract very order, subscription or dollar of revenue possible?”
Data integration – In today’s fast-moving and data-hungry digital landscape, logistics and workflow are paramount to being agile and opportunistic. Hence the concept of the “marketing cloud” and why that is all the rage today. Realistically, this is the future as it conceptually integrates complementary technology and workflows into one environment, but with one caveat. The solutions that win over the long-term offer true integration and workflow, and not just rapidly consolidated technology acquisitions that share a common navigation, color palette and font treatment.
Data automation – This is fundamental to advanced use cases, such as integrating with a data warehouse, generating custom data blends across platforms, workflow efficiency. While the majority of users will utilize the user interfaces to get the information they need, the users that typically put the strategic wheels in motion will rely on API’s, advanced visualization environments and platform data warehouses with clear documentation and strong reliability. Any solution in this realm will have to be clear and incontrovertible in addressing “the 3 V’s” of today’s site analytics data, Volume, Velocity and Variety of data.
Low complexity – Nobody likes the feeling of paying for software as a service and then doing the tally on the invoice to realize that half of their fees are services. So while a solution must have complex capabilities…complex implementation, complex maintenance requirements and complex usability are absolute no no’s. To address this, I would recommend avoiding the references supplied by the technology vendor (it’s fine to do the call and ask the questions, but realize that they were provided to you for a reason). Instead, use a tool such as Ghostery to identify sites that utilize the solutions you’re investigating and get honest feedback from folks in those organizations that are in your network. Honest feedback from an “unprepared source”.
So a logical question you may have is, “who does PMG recommend?” The answer is that we don’t have a blanket recommendation. At the base of all of these, is defining what are the advertiser’s biggest priorities. The answer to that defines the answer to which solutions should be reviewed and investigated. Different strokes for different folks.