5 Takeaways for Digital Advertisers from Nielsen’s Consumer 360

June 19, 2018 Ginna Hall

Today’s consumers spend over 23 hours a week using apps, viewing video, streaming audio and social networking on their smartphones. More than ever, we now engage with brands across mobile and online channels as well as television, radio, and print.

This is good news for advertisers, as consumers rush to embrace all types of content on multiple platforms and devices. Digital media offers new and innovative ways to reach a brand’s best buyers, including paid and organic social and search engine marketing.

But while brands now have more ways to meet consumers where they are, the rise of digital brings new challenges. Advertisers face a greater chance of being deflected as empowered consumers avail themselves of ad blockers and seek out ever-narrower niches. In addition, “walled gardens” in which large platforms corral data add complexity to the challenges of measuring marketing performance.

Advertisers Face Pressing Challenges

How advertisers can thrive in the new media landscape, measure and optimize effectively, get premium value from ad spend, and connect with consumers were pressing topics from a recent panel at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 event in Washington, D.C.

Lana Busignani, Executive Vice President at Nielsen, kicked off the discussion by describing the need for a holistic view of consumers. “Advertisers need to stop targeting consumers and start understanding them. The challenge is to achieve a total view,” she said. “Brands must figure out how to find, inspire and engage consumers while eliminating the waste of reaching consumers we aren’t relevant to.”

At the session, “Optimizing Digital Ad Spend Along The Consumer Path To Conversion,” Busignani asked panelists Michael Heberle, EVP Marketing Sciences at IPG MediaBrands; Dave Morgan, Founder and CEO at Simulmedia; and Matt Krepsik, Global Head of MROI Products at Nielsen, to weigh in on the challenges of attribution and optimization in the digital era.

The panel agreed that as complexity evolves, so does advertisers’ ability to keep pace and measure accurately. “What attribution brings to the industry is that advertisers can have their cake and eat too,” said Nielsen’s Krepsik. “If we optimize fundamentals, then marketers can focus on building good ad campaigns and strong brands and can also focus on digital conversion metrics.” Read on for five insights from our panelists.

Nielsen Consumer 360

Takeaway #1: Advertisers need more granular measurement.

Busignani described a “driving need for more granular measurement” for both advertisers investing in media and publishers, so that “each party can understand the value of what they’re buying and offering.”

Advertisers need to be able to optimize on outcome and feel confident that the premium price is worth it. They also need to understand what different audiences really deliver and how offerings compare. “The range of value and quality is enormous. Brands need to know that a premium audience is delivering results,” said Busignani.

Takeaway #2: Advertisers can use multi-touch attribution to get actionable insights.

Multi-touch attribution allows brands to achieve a comprehensive view of consumers by combining and leveraging multiple data points for insights into performance by audience segment.

“Multi-touch attribution takes what we’ve traditionally known at the market level or store level and brings it to the person level, so we can understand and place value on each touchpoint on a consumer’s journey,” said Busignani. “This allows brands to optimize and make decisions in-flight to reduce investments in places that are ineffective.”

Using multi-touch attribution, advertisers are able to generate actionable ROI against granular information by “weaving exposures together” and layering that onto individuals, then using attributes to create audience segments to measure performance against desired KPIs. “I love multi-touch attribution and tools getting into the right hands,” said Morgan.

“It’s a rapidly evolving world that’s changing overnight. As technology starts to be able to capture more ad exposures across platforms, we’re working on attribution solutions that make the same speed and scale possible,” said Krepsik.

Takeaway #3: Straddling TV and digital requires a new mindset for many advertisers.

Digital introduces new possibilities, which require a shift when thinking about planning, budgeting and measurement.  Morgan noted that some brands are taking a digital approach to TV advertising. “They’re trying to close the loop and optimize the way digital does.”

Krepsik likened the challenge for new entrants to learning to use a new muscle. “TV’s long cycles and attribution approach are very different from digital, which has much faster planning and cadence,” he said.

“Some companies can’t imagine that TV just can’t work like digital. The hardest challenge is social engineering not technical engineering,” said Morgan. “In digital what’s planned is bought. This is not the case in TV. In TV, planning is a wonderful exercise but it’s a dance, and then nine months later you may have nothing to do with it.”

“What’s really exciting and will change the industry quick is the emergence of digital direct brands such as Dollar Shave Club. They’re coming in fast, learn in digital and then hit the gas in TV,” added Morgan.

Consumer Journey

Takeaway #4: Advertisers must acknowledge new demands for security and privacy.

Data security and privacy are emerging as important aspects of attribution. “The legal issue is a very big challenge. I’m operating under the assumption that regulations similar to GDPR will come to the US soon,” said Heberle. “As a marketer this makes life more challenging. As a consumer exposed to advertising, I feel I have a right to my data privacy.”

Morgan doesn’t think we’ll see comparable GDPR regulations here in the US because of core cultural differences, but forecasts that user expectations with regard to security will be a bigger issue. “With the advent of block chain and decentralized systems, the focus will not just be on privacy but on data breaches,” he said.

A related concern is the cost of data and the challenge of protecting it. “The bigger issue is the privacy of the data a company has. Creating copies of data is expensive. The industry needs to focus on ways to join just the bits of data you need to make it useful,” said Krepsik. “It’s not about more data in one spot but bits of data joined together in the right way.”

The panelists agreed that while privacy concerns and regulations hinder adoption of attribution somewhat, this is just the latest challenge facing marketers, who are “still operating at gut instinct on some level,” according to Heberle. “It’s really about not letting hurdles stop us and continuing to look for solutions,” agreed Busignani.

Takeaway #5: Good creative is the cornerstone of advertising.

The session ended with a nod to the industry’s roots as panelists reflected on the importance of creative. “We’re attention merchants. Good creative is paramount; good creative captures our attention. We need to keep creatives being creative,” said Heberle. “When every hour of the day is filled with something, when do we sit and reflect and be creative? It’s important to build that time into processes.”

“It’s good creative vs. good execution. We need to think about measuring creative differently,” said Krepsik. Busagnani noted that as attribution evolves it will allow better effectiveness. “I think the pendulum will swing back to creative as we stop focusing on optimizing so heavily.”

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