True personalisation: Reigniting the value of digital advertising

Working in digital advertising, it’s instinct to keep an eye on the adverts that your family, friends and colleagues are being served. When a friend shows me an online video or article on their device, my first glance is to the adverts that surround that content. I actively look out for what many people seem intent on attempting to avoid - adverts.

 

Recently, while carrying out this informal ad-monitoring, I felt a strong sense of deja vu. Bizarrely, as I sat next to various colleagues, adverts for a popular children’s toy brand started to appear throughout the office like a virus moving from one computer to the next. From our senior leadership team down, almost everyone was being pestered by these ads.

 

This is just one, small example of assumptions being made and going seriously wrong. One person in the office had been looking at this popular children's toy as a gift for their daughter. But because every device in the building shares the same IP address, the algorithm responsible for serving those ads decided that all of the devices in the building were used by the same individual.

 

It destroyed the value of digital advertising for both consumer and brand.

 

Unfortunately for brands, this isn’t isolated or unique. To reach real people across the devices they use, you need to identify them accurately. Failure to do so doesn’t just cost businesses in misspent advertising dollars. It’s causing severe brand damage, as businesses pester and chase consumers around the internet with inappropriate, irrelevant messaging designed to elicit a click.

"To reach real people across the devices they use, you need to identify them accurately"

 

The vast majority of identification models are built on cookies and assumptions. They fail to identify the actual person that is looking at the advert. They can’t accurately identify a person across their devices, let alone what actions they have taken offline.

 

This is an issue on two fronts. Firstly, a lack of data and the insight that can be gleaned from that data. Advertisers need implementable data linked to their customers and prospects. Without it, it’s impossible to know what messaging to serve, when to serve it, and to whom.

 

Secondly, advertisers need the ability to personalise ad creative to actually deliver relevant messages based on this data.

True media personalisation

The solution is true media personalisation, and it doesn’t just solve the identification and quality problems I’ve touched upon above. I joined a panel at Advertising Week Europe last week to discuss the failure of attribution models to serve business interests. But by personalising media, attribution becomes irrelevant. Instead of extrapolated assumptions, true measurement of the impact advertising is having on business goals is possible, and it’s happening right now. Businesses are already increasing their bottom line, indisputably as a result of personalisation.

 

With a lack of data on consumers, advertisers previously had to rely on attributing the performance of adverts based on a single click - its sole purpose being to allow for an (unreliable) return on investment to be calculated. But with personalisation comes an accurate form of measurement - incrementality.

 

Incrementality, an advanced form of A/B testing the long-term business impact of advertising views on consumers, empowers advertising creative to do its job, whether that’s focussed on branding or transactional objectives.

"Incrementality empowers advertising creative to do its job."

 

Incrementality, an advanced form of A/B testing the long-term business impact of advertising views on consumers, empowers advertising creative to do its job, whether that’s focussed on branding or transactional objectives.

 

Consumers haven’t always been intent on avoiding adverts. There was a time not too long ago when consumers used to look out for adverts, just like I do now with my informal ad-monitoring.

 

But in the transition to online, advertising has become tied to eliciting a click. The desire to measure action, and find some tenuous method of attributing that action to profit has destroyed the value of advertising to both the consumer and the brand. Personalisation solves this. It brings value to digital advertising.

 

A version of this article was first published in the Huffington Post and Advertising Week to coincide with the author, Elliott Clayton's panel at Advertising Week Europe on attribution. You can watch the on-demand video of Elliott's panel, with experts on attribution from Google, AOL and Campaign Magazine.

Watch the panel on-demand