Confessions of a lazy marketer – the targeting trap

Digital marketing has been too easy for too long and the rubber band is about to snap, says Xavier Cramer. Consumers are beginning to wise up and ‘new age’ digital marketers may find themselves having to revisit traditional strategies.

I have a confession to make: I used to be a lazy marketer.Xavier Cramer 180

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but when I started in the industry, digital marketing put all the targeting tactics at my fingertips.

For ‘search engine marketing’ (SEM), it was as simple as serving ads when someone searched for a product. They literally told me what they wanted to see.

And over on Facebook, it didn’t take much effort to target people on any number of criteria: age, gender, interests, marital status – you name it. Want to reach a recently engaged, 35 year-old female who’s interested in eating healthy? Not a problem. A few clicks of the mouse and Belinda is seeing my ad about clean eating recipes.

Who cares about truly understanding or segmenting your audience when you have this level of targeting available at the press of a button?

But marketing has reached an interesting crossroads. The rubber band has snapped. People have had enough when it comes to their data. It’s clear following the recent Facebook issues around Cambridge Analytica that the way marketers use data needs to change and Facebook has already begun making adjustments.

The platform has removed profiling of an audience based on email addresses. As a user, it has made it considerably easier to see and edit which advertising buckets you’re in. And recently, at the company’s F8 conference, it was announced that there will be an option for users to clear their data from the platform.

And Facebook is not alone. In Europe, there’s been a mad scramble for companies to meet the obligations laid out by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Considering these regulations apply to any company that captures data of people within the EU, Australian companies with European customers need to get their house in order too. Furthermore, browsers are now coming with ad and cookie blocking as a default which is going to do plenty to restrict the lazy marketer.

What all this means is that the ‘new age’ digital marketer is in trouble if all they know how to do is lazy targeting, because these options may soon fall by the wayside.

In order to survive, they need to break their bubble and start developing a wider knowledge of the marketing landscape. They need to think of themselves not as digital marketers but as marketers in a digital age.

In this new world order, traditional strategic marketing is going to return to the forefront. After being mocked in recent years for not being digitally savvy, traditionalists are about to gain the upper hand.

It’s now imperative that marketers who feel most at home in the digital world improve their understanding of traditional marketing and greater understand their role in the consumer journey.

For brands that have been guilty of adopting the lazy marketer’s approach, it’s time to harness first-party data. As the Facebooks of the world continue to clamp down on the use of third-party data, owned first-party data will become invaluable. A lot of brands already have this data, but rather than utilising it, lazy marketers have opted for a catalogue of hand-fed targeting options. It may take a little extra work but the opportunity for accurate and personalised messaging is abundant.

Personally, I don’t consider myself a lazy marketer anymore. For the past 18 months, I have learned that cross-learning and thinking outside the digital bubble are non-negotiable. But for all the marketers out there still using lazy tactics, be wary. Your days are numbered.

 

Xavier Cramer is a performance media specialist at Spinach.

 

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