Embracing today’s digital ecosystem brings both opportunity and challenge. While it provides marketers with direct ways to engage with unique consumer bases, the rapidly evolving landscape doesn’t come with clear sign posts to follow. And the new companies that provide a wealth of burgeoning technologies—which range from advertising networks to video platforms to programmatic exchanges—now influence how marketers choose to manage media buying on a daily basis.
The ongoing debate around the evolution of digital marketing set the stage for a panel discussion at this year’s Nielsen’s Consumer 360, moderated by Joanna O’Connell, lead analyst, AdExchanger Research. The session explored how first- and third-party data work in this new system and how companies are keeping pace in the realm of big data. Among the panelists were Chad Dreas, senior vice president of client solutions at Nielsen, Barbara Singer, vice president of advertiser insights and strategy at ESPN, and Jon Cogan, director of investment research and insight lead at Annalect. Panelists shared their perspectives around this developing digital environment and how marketers can better understand their place within it all.
One key driver of the conversation was the idea of creating a “consumer-centric” environment—important because the success of media buying decisions often hinges on identifying the “best consumer.” And that means recognizing who they are and identifying the best way to reach them. Is it traditional television? Is it mobile? Or is it a mix?
One thing is for sure, noted ESPN’s Singer, is that technology continues to disrupt.
“Once you’ve hitched your wagon to one technology, another comes along and you find yourself locked into something that isn’t compatible with new technology,” she said.
But it’s not just about identifying the right consumers. Another challenge for brands is making the connection between big data to establish a direct relationship with consumers in order to build brand loyalty. In this regard, AdExchanger’s O’Connell said creating a transparent and consumer centric environment is critical to success.
And one way that marketers are steadily exploring as they seek new reach methods is programmatic ad buying, which many say will continue gaining ground—including in television buys. “When we ask media buyers about the biggest challenge they face, they worry about transparency,” she said. “It’s more important than inventory quality.
This ideology, or the perception of it, poses its own set of challenges in both media buying and in data collection and mining. For Nielsen’s Dreas, understanding programmatic is like poetry, “it means something different to everyone.”