Technology and performance-based media have permanently changed advertising. While we can all agree on that, opinions vary greatly when you start talking about whether that change has been positive or negative, which channels perform the best, to what degree technology has become an enabler, and whether technology has freed up marketers’ time to be more strategic or simply created more headaches.
Ask any five marketers about these issues and you’re likely to get different answers from each. Too many variables exist to expect anything different. How large or small is the marketer’s company and brand? What size teams do they employ internally or externally to manage search, social, display, and other performance-based channels? What type of investment have they made in enabling technologies? These are just a few of the many variables.
It’s not hard to find success stories about companies doing well with technology’s help. Most performance-based marketing channels require a very granular level of management, and technology often helps marketers scale these efforts. This is true for marketers trying to scale a microtargeted social media advertising campaign, a vast paid search program, or display campaigns with broad online footprints. Human management without the assistance of automation technology simply can’t be scaled to any sort of meaningful level.
Whether relying on internal teams or agency partners, marketers should assess their team’s use of automation technology to ensure that talented individuals and effective tools are being put to use on their behalf. To develop a basic assessment, consider asking your team leads the following questions.
How Are Results Being Tracked?
If results aren’t being tracked by an agency partner, run away and find a new agency. If internal teams manage campaigns and aren’t tracking results, replace your team leads or invest in some extensive training.
Tracking results is critical in any marketing channel, particularly online. Without understanding the source of positive results, campaigns cannot be improved, and marketers fall behind the competition quickly. At the most basic level, campaigns need to be tweaked based on what works and what doesn’t.
Marketing automation technology can help compile data from multiple sources, standardize, and normalize it, while displaying actionable reports to identify key insights and areas of opportunity.
How Can We Ensure Relevance and Scale?
Agencies or internal campaign managers can only do so much on their own. Humans can manage small campaigns while ensuring ads are relevant to their audiences and thus more likely to be effective, but once they overextend themselves, relevance and success can fall by the wayside. While this is true in any online advertising channel, search and social media present particular challenges. Facebook campaigns, for example, enable marketers to microtarget ads based on personal interests, geography, demographics, and other factors. While this ensures extreme relevance, it also presents extreme difficulties when it comes to scaling ad campaigns to achieve desired reach or volume.
Advanced technologies work with APIs at Google, Bing, Facebook, and other top sites to automate campaign changes, inventory tracking, and other manual tasks in many performance-based ad channels, and marketing teams ought to have a sound strategy in place for cost-effectively automating many of these manual tasks. By freeing up time and accomplishing manual tasks faster, advertising teams often exponentially improve productivity, and this essentially meets the prerequisite requirements for keeping ads relevant while scaling campaigns.
In future columns, I’ll share more challenges that marketing automation can address and offer best practices for picking a technology platform.
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