5 New Ways to Answer Advertising’s Oldest Questions

Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash

The world of advertising is constantly changing. New technologies and methods of communication are introduced every year that bring new ways to reach audiences in more dynamic ways.

Audiences are changing, as well. Not only are modern audiences growing more conscious of the high level of advertising that appears in their everyday life, but they are starting to become more interactive with advertising. Social media, in particular, allows audiences to be more vocal about what they do — and don’t — like in advertisements: appreciating ads they feel hit the mark, calling out ones that are problematic, and discussing ads that do something surprising.

Even with all these new technologies and communication mediums at advertisers’ fingers, there are several questions about advertising that remain the same:

  • How do I reach my target consumer?
  • What media mix should I use that will best reach these consumers?
  • How much should I spend on each channel I use to reach consumers?
  • How will I know if my investments drove results?
Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

There are five things to keep in mind when trying to answer these questions:

1. Syndicated research only gets us so far.

Simply using a compilation of data and syndicated research (a study conducted by a marketing firm for anyone to use, rather than for a specific client) to make decisions about what media to use, how to build a campaign, etc., is never going to be enough to get the best results for a client. In fact, just using this data will mean you’re essentially doing what everyone else is doing. To break apart and get ahead — and to get the best results for your client — it’s best to constantly make use of new data sources and methods, or better yet, to conduct your own research of the audience.

2. There is no “one path” consumers take to ultimately doing what you want them to do on your website.

If you haven’t looked at a typical “path to purchase” or “path to conversion” report, you should! You’ll discover that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pathways consumers can take when navigating around your website before actually engaging with the site in the way you want, be that making a purchase, downloading a document, or signing up for a service.

Being aware of the different pathways to engagement can help in a couple of different ways. First, you can use these pathways to understand the customer user experience when it comes to your website: are users having an easy time navigating the path to purchase, or is there a pattern of certain steps in that path causing users to leave? By knowing whether it is easy or complicated for users to take the desired action and where the problems may lie, you can optimize your website to streamline the path to purchase as much as possible.

Second, understanding these pathways can help when it comes to crafting ads. For example, you can highlight whichever products or services are most popular (or not), decide if your ad should explain something that is confusing users in the path to purchase and figure out what to link out for digital ads.

3. It’s not an option to use the same methods for media planning and buying for all clients.

You want to make sure your clients are getting the most bang for their buck, from great ads to increased website traffic to purchases. To do that, you have to customize your media planning and buying techniques to each client based on what the client’s goals are, where their target consumers can be found, and what media is available.

It is not possible to use the same basic mix of media planning and buying methods for all your clients. Remember, each client is different, working to address different needs and reach different audiences. Media planning and buying methods have to change constantly. By testing and re-testing different methods, an agency can take the performance of existing ads across different media to determine the optimal mix — removing buys that aren’t working, adding ones with promise based on what you’ve learned from the performance of past buys.

4. Big data is where it’s at for planning and activating campaigns.

“Big data” refers to large data sets that, once digitally analyzed, are particularly helpful in discovering patterns, trends, and connections among human behavior and interactions. In other words, big data gives you an idea of true consumer behavior when it comes to your business.

After reading that, it would seem that big data is obviously where you want to look when planning and implementing campaigns. But in reality, outside of making decisions about paid ad placement — be it on TV, radio, or streaming media — big data is often underutilized when it comes to broader campaign planning and implementation.

Big data gives you a true, important look behind the curtain at your consumers: how they interact with your client, what works or doesn’t work, and so much more. This should be used to drive all media decisions, not just where you place ads.

5. Customers now expect customization and dynamic content when it comes to advertising.

As a result of these new expectations, paired with the rise of new technology and data, we as advertisers have changed and evolved our methods of content creation and storytelling. After all, we have to keep up if we want to keep bringing our clients wins.

The media landscape has drastically changed.

Digital media has drastically changed the field of advertising. As consumers increasingly use digital media, there is a growing need for more live, customized data to accurately target and reach consumers where they are. Additionally, digital media relies heavily on algorithms to determine what people see on a platform. This puts algorithms at the forefront of making media investment decisions: determining how you can best make a platform’s algorithm work for you.

By turning from traditional planning to this new way of thinking, we can finally start to address these long-lasting unanswered questions in a meaningful way by truly bringing data, algorithms, and technology to the forefront of their operation.



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Havas’ customer engagement and data agency, based out of Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and Richmond. Powered by Havas CX.