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Privacy, platforms & power shifts: 3 trends reshaping marketing and measurement

April 4, 2024 | 8 min read

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Smartly’s Kristin MacGregor (KMac) talks privacy, multi-touchpoint and real-time measurement, and why modern marketing demands a shift to a unified measurement and planning solution.

Smartly’s Kristin MacGregor (KMac) talks privacy, multi-touchpoint and real-time measurement

Smartly’s Kristin MacGregor (KMac) talks privacy, multi-touchpoint and real-time measurement

The marketing landscape is undergoing a radical transformation this year. Consumers are calling the shots, demanding more control over how they interact with brands. This shift necessitates an overhaul of traditional marketing tactics.

The Drum caught up with Google/YouTube veteran Kristin MacGregor (KMac), now chief commercial officer at Smartly, to explore three key trends reshaping marketing - and how brands like Uber are seeing success by embracing new tools that allow for a unified, holistic approach to measurement, planning and connecting the funnel.

KMac, set the stage for us. This year in particular, we’re all feeling the rapid changes in our industry and with that how marketers do their jobs. Why is this happening?

We're witnessing a fascinating power shift in the marketing landscape. There are a few important trends demanding our attention:

  1. The rise of the dynamic consumer journey: Media consumption is not linear. Consumers now seamlessly navigate a complex ecosystem of channels, creating a multi-touchpoint experience. This fragmented journey fuels the need for a holistic approach to measurement across platforms.
  2. Ad dollars moving to social: Social media has become the dominant force in media consumption. Consumers are glued to these platforms, averaging 1.3 hours daily, with Gen Z clocking in at a staggering 4 hours. This shift in behavior is leading to a significant migration of ad dollars. Likewise, budgets traditionally allocated to television are increasingly being directed towards social media campaigns. The reason? It works. It fosters a multi-touchpoint experience, allowing brands to connect with consumers throughout their journey.
  3. Privacy takes center stage, and with it, the power of creative: Consumer privacy concerns are at an all-time high. According to Google, 91% of people want brands to be transparent about how they use the data they collect. And, over half of consumers will switch brands for one that prioritizes data privacy. This has led to stricter regulations and the impending demise of cookies by the end of 2024. Traditional measurement methods reliant on cookies will become obsolete, rendering campaigns ineffective. In this privacy-focused environment, creative will become the key differentiator. Compelling stories, engaging visuals, and emotional connections will be crucial to cut through the noise and resonate with consumers.

What are some of the challenges brands are facing in this new landscape, and how can they be addressed?

Many brands are struggling with three common issues right now:

  • Reimagining the funnel: The traditional marketing funnel is broken. Consumers can watch a TikTok video on Monday and purchase your product on Tuesday. This means brand metrics like reach and frequency, critical for understanding the upper funnel, are even more important. However, measuring these metrics has historically been siloed and outsourced, creating a disconnect between brand and performance teams. Ideally, we'd see a shift towards real-time collaboration between these teams toward more holistic measurement to make better investment decisions.
  • Holistic cross-platform measurement: Today's consumers seamlessly navigate various platforms. Marketers need a media mix that reflects this behavior. Reaching customers across multiple channels fosters stronger brand recall. Omnichannel campaigns can significantly increase brand recognition. While the exact percentage may vary, studies by The Marketing Interactive indicate an increase of up to 54%. But striking the right balance is key. Excessive frequency leads to ad fatigue and inflated costs. Measuring campaign performance across platforms has become incredibly complex due to privacy regulations and limitations within walled gardens. Collaborative solutions and a common measurement language are crucial to understand how each channel contributes to the overall strategy.
  • Speed to action: Consumers are constantly connected, consuming information in real-time, especially through social media. Marketers need to deliver fresh, relevant creative content at scale. This requires access to real-time insights and the ability to adjust strategies quickly based on audience response. Traditionally, obtaining outcome measurement against brand metrics like reach and frequency could take months. Modern marketing demands a shift – move beyond a wait-and-see mentality and embrace real-time, performance-driven campaigns.

So, how can brands adapt to this privacy-centric, multi-touchpoint world? Metrics like reach and frequency, traditionally siloed for upper funnel analysis, seem even more critical now. Are there any innovative solutions emerging to address this challenge?

You're absolutely right. Reach and frequency are crucial for understanding how a brand message resonates across multiple touchpoints. However, measuring these metrics effectively in a privacy-focused world is a major hurdle.

At Smartly, we're excited about the potential of innovative solutions like Brand Pulse, the first of its kind solution in the industry. The tech allows brands to address these challenges head-on by providing real-time reach and frequency planning and insights. It helps advertisers to understand how those early interactions across platforms – the initial impressions customers encounter – actually influence buying decisions.

How exactly does that help marketers deal with all these privacy rules and all the different channels out there?

Brand Pulse helps marketers in a couple of big ways. First, it fills in that missing piece of the puzzle at the top of the funnel, to give you a complete picture of the customer journey, from start to finish. In the past, marketers looked at things like reach and frequency (how many people saw your ads and how often) separately from how well their campaigns were doing overall. By connecting those dots, you can understand how you are reaching your audiences throughout your funnel, from awareness to conversion.

Second, it uses a cool technology called Real-Time Reach and Frequency, or RTRF for short, which is embedded directly into our media and creative management products. It's the first of its kind - a privacy-first approach that lets you see exactly how many people are seeing your ads across social media (and how much it’s costing you), without counting the same people twice. This means you can fine tune your campaigns on the fly and make sure you’re not showing your ads to the same people over and over again, across platforms.

This has huge implications for the media industry, essentially merging the plan, execution and optimization into one continuous cycle. It means looking at the entire advertising process as an ongoing conversation rather than a set of isolated events. This continuity allows for not just reacting to the market as it changes but being a step ahead, making every decision an informed one, holding every dollar to account. It’s about making the whole process smarter, not harder.

Are there any brands that have embraced technology to overcome these specific marketing hurdles?

Uber is a great example of a brand using these new tools to increase the effectiveness of its media spend. Recently, we worked closely with Kevin Joy, global performance marketing at Uber, to achieve an agnostic measurement solution with Brand Pulse - which, as Kevin said, is “critical to understanding how hard the investment works.” This allowed the team to understand how media investments were performing across various channels, ultimately optimizing campaigns and achieving significant results.

Likewise, Kinesso UK&I found success with this technology and was able to achieve a 90% drop in cost per incremental reach. Ultimately, understanding how your media investments perform across various channels is crucial for optimizing campaigns and maximizing return.

By embracing the power of advertising technology that can hold ad dollars to account throughout the funnel, marketers can empower themselves to navigate the complexities of the new advertising landscape and shape the future of customer engagement.

To find out more about Brand Pulse, please visit here.

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