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The Right Person, Time & Place Means Nothing Without the Right Creative

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We’ve heard it before -- right person, right time, right place, right message -- but what does “right message” really entail? The ad industry has become preoccupied with the scientific capabilities of precise targeting, audience segmenting, and ad-buying techniques. As a result, ad creative has been relegated as an afterthought. Can advertising campaigns reach their potential when a brand has millions of prospects and just a handful of creative to match each of them?

It’s time for marketers to cozy up to consumers. Users switch between screens and devices, use their smartphones to communicate and consume, and view video more and more each day. With all of this access, it’s easy for them to tune out content and advertising by blocking ads, skipping pre-roll video, or simply hitting the “close” button.

They do this because too many ads aren’t interesting, relevant, or personal.

The industry has countered in various ways -- increased viewability, native ads that can’t be blocked, etc. -- but I have a different proposal: Let’s look into the data we have on users and evolve our approach with creative as we learn more and more about what users like and don’t like.

Get Personal for Real Results

In an early 2015 interview, Wanda Gierhart, SVP and CMO for Neiman Marcus, was asked what marketing topic was most important to her.

Her answer? Personalization. Neiman Marcus has utilized personalized messaging to align its in-store and digital experiences. In doing so, the retail giant mirrored the experience of interacting with an amiable in-store associate -- leveraging customers’ partialities, behaviors, and personal information to create brand encounters that appeal to people on an individual level.

In an increasingly digital world, creating these personalized experiences is more important than ever. Consumers are no longer satisfied with canned email campaigns or generic marketing messages -- they want to connect with brands on a more human level.

With the increased consumer intelligence available, marketers have the capacity to meet these lofty expectations and provide unique, personalized messages. And doing so is in their best interest: A McKinsey study found that emphasizing data-driven personalization in a company’s marketing and sales initiatives can improve ROI by more than 20%.

Consumers expect authenticity, relatability, and contextual relevance -- factors that drive brand loyalty and awareness. So why aren’t advertisers giving it to them? It’s simple: Digital advertising has always been too focused on delivery and not enough on creating meaningful moments.

There are three things every marketer should keep in mind for stronger, more personal creative:

1) Don’t let creative be an afterthought.

We know marketers need to reach consumers at the right time and right place, but the right message is crucial. Only when these three concepts work together can the ad perform. 

To time everything out, follow up with contacts after they take a specific action (e.g., if a customer abandons his shopping cart, send a friendly reminder email within 24 hours). Next, monitor how your customers interact with you: Do they open your emails, visit your Twitter page, or perform another action? In doing so, you’ll discover how your customers prefer to talk to you. Above all, adopt a humanized brand voice. Consumers crave creative messaging that feels authentic, so ditch the soulless corporation act.

2) Think small.

As much talk as there is about big data, take a step back and look at the small data. Start by collecting preferences via self-report surveys. Or, if you don’t want to bombard your customers with tons of questions, use progressive profiling to ask them one or two questions every time they interact with your brand. Then, see how this personal information -- whether it’s first-party data or licensed third-party data -- can be applied to your media plans and creative executions.

3) Personalize across channels.

Marketers can maximize media audience segmentation with storytelling visuals and lighter copy in campaign creative on every device and every channel. For instance, take advantage of mobile location and proximity as your target audience is on the go. Layer that with unique contextual messaging in videos that will engage consumers.

Customers live in an on-demand world -- transportation, food, shelter, and entertainment is a tap away. The most successful marketers are removing the steps required for customers to get what they want quickly. Advertising should remove the friction of mass messages and more importantly, remove the irrelevance. To create personalized experiences, advertisers can use dynamic creative tools to change their messages in real time, causing a shift in the way media strategists not only plan campaigns, but also utilize data and audience segmentation for personalized, impactful creative messaging.

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