We sat down with Richard Jones, CEO of digital campaign CMS provider Wayin, to discuss attitudes to digital advertising, current trends and why interactivity will revolutionize marketing as we know it.
Over the last ten years, marketing has been a decidedly one-way affair, says Richard Jones, CEO of digital campaign CMS provider Wayin.
In the scramble to capture consumers’ attention, brands have sought to push their message further, wider and louder – with marketing that thrusts advertising cheerily into increasingly intimate contexts.
The digital marketing we’re familiar with relies on a ‘broadcast’ approach, says Jones:
“Budgets have moved across to digital, but up until now the majority of digital marketing was still just a broadcast format. Think about Facebook – it’s not interactive, it’s a video display network for ads. It’s the same for YouTube and others.”
ClickZ caught up with him to discuss attitudes to digital advertising, current trends, and why interactivity will revolutionise marketing as we know it.
Digital advertising isn’t working
The problem for marketers, says Jones, is that consumers have had enough. “We know that consumers are turned off by the current advertising frameworks, because the click-through rate on these ads are getting smaller. People are essentially ignoring the vast majority of digital advertising that is put in front of them.”
There’s data to support this, which suggests that consumer indifference to advertising is due in part to overfamiliarity. Banners ads are a good example of this. When AT&T ran the first banner ad on the 1994 issue of HotWired (the digital version of Wired magazine), click-through rates reportedly exceeded 40%. Of course, there were only around 30 million internet users at the time, but consumer engagement was undeniable – it was new, interesting, fun.
Compare that to now, where the average click-through rate for a standard banner is less than 0.1%. Even for platforms that deliver rich media, like Facebook, see an average CTR of around 2% for ads on desktop and 3% for those on mobile.
It seems that as consumers become more familiar with the online world, they become better at discerning between advertising and ‘authentic’ content, often ignoring the former entirely. With 26% of US internet users using ad blockers (and the jubilation following Google’s announcement that it will scrap its unskippable 30s pre-roll adverts on YouTube), there is compelling evidence for the need for change.
The solution: interactivity
The solution, says Jones, is not to find new ways to beat ad blockers – it’s to use new technology to make marketing more engaging.
“The true promise of digital is having interactive experiences with people. That’s what digital channels can provide. That drives real engagement – getting people to take an action: to vote, to share, to click, to opt-in, to co-create, to participate.”
With new technology comes new ways to engage users. An innovative example of this is augmented reality (AR), which allows you to layer digital elements over real-world experiences. After the incredible popularity of Pokemon Go, brands are beginning to take these this technology seriously as a tool to engage customers. Wayin has integrated its campaigns with the leading AR platform, Blippar to deliver promotions and interactive experiences in an AR environment, connecting the physical and digital world for marketers.
Additionally Jones believes leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots provides new ways for brands to deliver 1:1 marketing experiences on a mass scale.
“We are betting big on chatbots and instant messaging platforms, but we are also expanding the level of interactive experiences that marketers have available to them in the new ‘live’ formats such as FB Live and Periscope. The new channels offer ways for marketers to free themselves from reliance on old formats of advertising.”
Although these technologies are advancing rapidly, Jones thinks there is still a way to go: “AR, AI and chatbots are growing trends, but I’d say that we’re only just scraping the surface of what will be coming down the line.”
Price vs value
Jones acknowledges that many marketers may not consider this feasible, “looking at interactive marketing experiences, and adopting new channels, most marketers think ‘I’d love to do it, but it’s expensive and will increase my non-working media spend’.”
But Jones thinks the problem is not the cost, but the single-use approach that most marketers take to building these experiences, “Marketers will go to an agency, spend six weeks ideating, create an experience at great expense; they’ll run it for the campaign, and then they’ll throw it away.”
He argues this approach doesn’t deliver the best value for the money. Instead, marketers should be looking to re-use successful campaigns – especially those around cyclical events like Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
“CMS platforms like Wayin allow you to create an interactive experience, and then save it to a global library which other divisions in your organisation can access. A brand manager in New York can see a campaign that someone else has done in Europe, clone it, localise it and then publish it to their market. It’s simple, streamlined and you can build up a library of what works.”
The value this delivers to marketers far exceeds that of traditional ‘disruptive’ campaigns – or, as Jones puts it, ‘trying to force people to watch an ad when they’re looking at photos of their friends on Facebook, or reading and article on WSJ.com’.
Marketers should demand more, he says. “If you push out a video ad online and a second is watched, with 60% of the video frame viewable, that counts as a view. That doesn’t sound like a great payback to the advertisers to me.”
That’s why Jones says Wayin is working with ad frameworks like Google Double-Click and social networks like Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr to deliver Wayin powered interactive experiences natively within their advertising units.
“We call these ‘appverts’, which is a radical shake-up of the traditional ad unit on a lot of these platforms. It allows the brand to customize an interactive experience of their choice, which is unique to them, and have that as the ad unit they pay to get in front of people. This allows advertising to be based on formats that are once again something new for the consumer, something different.”
If used correctly, new technology will pave the way for a new era of online marketing; one that works for both consumers and brands. Consumers benefit by receiving a streamlined, interactive experience which earns their attention. Marketers benefit by increasing the value they can get from a single campaign, whilst simultaneously engaging customers in a meaningful way.
To get seasonal marketing ideas for your next interactive campaign, download Wayin’s new whitepaper 365 Days of Marketing Campaigns.
Sandy Rubinstein is the CEO of the independently female minority-owned marketing and advertising firm DXagency. ClickZ caught up with her to find out about her role as CEO, and what advice she would give to women who want to work in the digital industry.
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