New tech tricks will help target digital ads and cut wastage

If you’re targeting North America, the chances are that your digital marketing budget includes an allocation for advertising.

Last year, US digital ad spending surpassed television for the first time. Fortunately, the adage about half the money in advertising being wasted – but no one knowing which half – applies less and less in the digital world. With online campaigns becoming easier to target, track and customise, a growing number of technologies can ensure your online ad spend delivers more bang for its buck.

During a Facebook earnings call in autumn 2016, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg referenced a Celebrity Cruises campaign powered by Irish company StitcherAds. Noting that the social network’s new Dynamic Ads for Travel tripled Celebrity’s online bookings, she said: “I think these kinds of results are made possible by more vertical-specific products, and we’re going to continue to invest more here.”

This type of technology allows businesses to serve unique-to-user advertisements, covering their entire product catalogue, to re-targeted website/app visitors or new audiences. It works by pulling product information direct from a feed into an ad template. StitcherAds was one of the first companies in the world to conduct feed-based advertising on Facebook. Its Dynamic Ads offering takes the concept further, helping advertisers automate, optimise and scale their campaigns to achieve a higher return.

In the Celebrity Cruises example, a pixel on the company’s website tracked itineraries viewed by potential customers. Facebook advertisements then displayed available cruises, pricing, images and messaging, informed by the trips people had already viewed online. Facebook said sales from the ads brought in twice as much revenue as the cruise line’s traditional, paid-search campaigns.
With results like this, greater investment in marketing technology is becoming the norm. A 2016 Gartner survey found chief marketing officers directed an average 27pc of their budgets towards technology, compared to 22pc for paid media. Another poll by Walker Sands Communications found that two-thirds of marketers expected their technology budgets to increase in 2017.

Such rapid spending growth has not been lost on Irish entrepreneurs. Five marketing technology companies were among the high-potential startups Enterprise Ireland selected for seed funding in the past year. Kong Digital, part of the startup class of 2015, offers an example of where those businesses might be headed. Clients include Universal Music Global, which uses the Irish company’s marketing platform, Kongalytics, to manage over 450 of its artists’ social media accounts.
It allows brands to manage, schedule and analyse all content shared across their social media platforms. Kongalytics integrates this data with online advertising in real time and tracks the impact of those campaigns on SEO performance. Kongalytics users have reported a 50pc reduction in wasted ad spend, a 10x increase in ROI and halved campaign management times.

While the latest marketing technologies differ, they’re underpinned by the industry’s desire to interact with consumers based more on what they do than what they’re looking at.
Popdeem, another marketing-tech firm that originated in Ireland, gives businesses a plug-and-play tool for adding engaging social loyalty programs to their apps. In one case, a Kentucky-based coffee chain called Heine Brothers’ Coffee rewards customers that check-in or share photos at their 14 locations.

Tempting customers with loyalty points, freebies or discounts or encouraging them to tell their friends is, of course, nothing new. The real promise of marketing in 2017 lies in the ability to deliver a promotion or a message to the exact people who will find it relevant. Soon, advertisers targeting international markets will be able to separate campaigns that work from those that are wasting money.

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