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Marketers are ready to up their personalization game – and publishers can help

November 14, 2018 | By Tim Bourgeois, Partner—East Coast Catalyst @ChiefDigOfficer

According to a new study by Forrester, many big companies struggle to develop and deliver advertising that is highly relevant and personalized. Whether it’s due to stodgy internal processes, bad data, or a dearth of appropriate technology, large organizations haven’t yet been able to make personalized advertising tactics a part of their marketing operations.

To gauge marketplace sentiment, Forrester talked with 100+ senior marketers at U.S. companies with more than $1 billion in annual sales.

While personalization has been a staple at marketing conferences and strategic planning sessions now for more than a decade, it seems to be one of those things that, while rather easily embraced by SMBs, is proving to be a major challenge for large enterprises. This isn’t surprising to Raquel Rosenthal, CEO at Digilant, a programmatic advertising company, who says there’s more to digital marketing than meets the eye. “To be sure, technology plays a big part in the digital advertising ecosystem,” she observes. “But I would argue that process and people are arguably more important than the tech component – especially when it comes to something complex like personalization – and it takes time for all three areas to gel successfully at large corporations.”

Three Tactics to Try

Personalization is one of the few issues in marketing that genuinely impact all three primary constituents – advertisers, platforms, and audiences – equally. The advancement of true customized advertisers will lead to better outcomes to everyone in the mix: Advertisers will improve ROAS, platforms will be able to charge more, and audiences will have superior experiences. It’s a win-win-win.

Clearly, the marketplace clearly has a ways to go before this becomes a reality. Publishers can pursue three tactics to help accelerate the movement:

1. Package & Promote Personalization Capabilities

Personalization, one-to-one marketing, customized messaging – call it what you will – but make it a bit part of your pitch, as soon as possible. If it’s already there, emphasize it more, and maybe even lead with it. Personalization is subjective, and means one thing to a startup and something completely different to a $10 billion category leader.

If you’re an established publisher, promote personalization even at the risk of putting mainstay features like superior reach and rich audience data on the back-burner. The marketplace already knows you have these offerings – that’s the benefit of being around for awhile – but might think you’re lagging in the area of personalization, like they are. Let them know otherwise, in no uncertain terms, and get aggressive about it.

2. Deliver The Personalization That Most Brands Can’t (Or Won’t)

Whether it’s because of bad data, lack of technology, regulatory restrictions (real or perceived), or stifling internal politics, many big brands aren’t able to manage personalized campaigns with internal resources. But most are able engage with external providers to do so.

Either through the application of creative (“innovative”?) techniques that rely on data segmentation and labor-intensive methods, or via the litany of ad technology flooding the marketplace, publishers of every stripe and size are in a favorable position to deliver targeted marketing solutions. Getting there might require an unorthodox product design strategy, but it’s there for the taking.

3. Fortune Favors The Bold

Personalization is an area where traditional publishers have a unique window of opportunity these days. While the eyes of the world remain fixed on the duopoly’s every move, there isn’t a lot of interest or bandwidth to cover the rest of the marketplace, affording other players more room to maneuver.

These market conditions won’t last favor, but a window currently exists. And for publishers interested in making bold moves, personalization could be a appropriate fit.

Many Big Brands Are Lagging, And Publishers Can Help

Forrester sums up its core findings of this research effort neatly, and in a way that highlights both new market realities and the underlying opportunities: “To differentiate themselves and provide value for increasingly demanding customers, companies must become obsessed with delivering relevancy and value in all their customer interactions, including their advertising.”

Knowing how valuable personalization can be for brands, and how significantly many are struggling to employ the tactic, publishers that find a way to help advertisers quickly and easily incorporate personalization into marketing operations will be able to meaningfully differentiate themselves from the competition – including the duopology.


About The Author

Tim Bourgeois (@ChiefDigOfficer) is a principal at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based digital media audit company.

 

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