Death of broad market advertising

Spending on advertising is set to reach new heights in 2015, writes Jeremy Crooks, managing director of Criteo in Australian and New Zealand.

Image of Jeremy Crooks

EMarketer research suggests that marketers will spend $US592 billion on advertising in 2015. Yet just a quarter of this will go to digital advertising, suggesting that marketers are still addicted to the broad-based marketing techniques that have been used for more than a century.

It’s safe to say that consumers no longer respond to this kind of advertising in the same way. Modern life is overrun with advertising across billboards, TV, newspapers and online, with little of this providing any information that is relevant to the consumer. It has become easier to simply ignore the advertising around us, tuning out as soon as our favourite television show changes to an ad, or ignoring the billboard as if it’s invisible.

Some of these habits have carried across to the digital age, where static banner ads and paid search terms are used lazily to reach as many consumers as possible, with no thought paid to which consumers they truly want to target, and where.

The days of Mad Men-inspired slogans single-handedly winning over customers are over.

Instead, the future of advertising is one where marketers provide content to consumers that is personalised and multi-channel.

To be personalised is to tailor information to the consumer based on their existing behaviour and preferences, and provide them with product information that is relevant to them. Knowing their past purchases, their likes and dislikes, and their purchasing intentions allows advertisers to remind customers of that dress they were looking at, at the exact moment when they’re looking for something to wear.

It’s no surprise that the advent of 1:1 marketing coincided with the rapid take-up of the web in the early 2000s.

But few have truly taken up that promise. A lot of online advertising continues to rely on broad marketing messages regurgitated to the masses, with little thought provided to what a consumer might want to see and when.

Recent research from the IAB Online Advertising Expenditure report shows that even if it’s still a small part of the overall strategy, digital advertising is growing fast. The Australian online advertising market grew by 16% to $4.6 billion in 2014 from the previous year and mobile contributed around 64.4% of that growth. The key now is to ensure that brands take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital space, such as the proliferation of programmatic advertising and marketing automation, in order to really customise marketing to consumers.

Of utmost importance is that the message reaches consumers where they are.

Australian marketers are taking notice of the growing role of mobile, but the conversation needs to go further.

The average Australian household now has around eight connected devices, and is switching across them regularly, and fluidly.

They might start researching a product on their computer at work, continue to look at it on the way home on their smartphone, and hit the ‘buy’ button on their tablet at home. There are no longer clear lines, or barriers between when a consumer’s purchasing journey begins or ends.

In order to be truly effective, marketers need to do the same. They need to meet consumers not just on one of these devices, but across all of them, in a consistent manner, with relevant products and information along their path to purchase.

All of this must be done non-intrusively, and of course give the consumer choice, but it can be done in a way that will truly connect the consumer with the brand.

The age of broad-based advertising is meeting its end as consumers become immune to its effects. Successful marketers will be those who can truly grasp the opportunities provided by technology to meet the right consumers, when and where they are, with a message they will engage with, and not simply disregard.