Digital advertising must evolve to meet the needs of the consumer

Mobile Marketing

Mobile Marketing Magazine discusses changing consumer behaviour, data and in-game advertising with Gary Taylor, Deputy MD at tmwi.

Mobile Marketing: The media and marketing landscape is looking remarkably different today than it was 12 months ago – do you anticipate the changes are here to stay?

Gary Taylor: I think much of the change we’ve seen was inevitable, but was simply accelerated by COVID. This isn’t just the knock-on effect of the financial impact, such as some high street stores and consumer-focused businesses closing, but there’s been a shift in the way we live, which has in turn impacted our media consumption, be it the absence of a commute or the surge in popularity of podcasts, web conferencing and TV on demand.

The horrendous few months we’ve all experienced – directly or indirectly – has changed consumers’ attitudes too: they want more from the brands with which they interact. They want meaningful connections and personalised advertising that really speaks to their values, and they want brands to show they have purpose and authenticity. And it’s crucial that brands realise the importance of really living and breathing these beliefs – consumers will soon sniff out those who are paying lip service.

Marketers need to be considering their brand activity as a whole in this new post-lockdown climate, from day-to-day campaign activity to broader brand purpose and intent.

MM: What role is data playing in revealing the new behaviours of consumers?

GT: Data is everything. People haven’t gone off-grid – they are still consuming, they are just doing it differently. Our job is to help marketers refine their messaging to address these new behaviours, new attitudes and less predictable way of life.

The sheer quantity and complexity of data and technology available is only beneficial to brands if it is understood, implemented and applied effectively. We apply a mix of analytics, disruption tactics and live optimisation, all of which ensures our clients can reach their customers in the right place and the right time, no matter what unpredictable influences are going on around us.

MM: Speaking of data, 18 months on from the GDPR regulations coming into force, we are now approaching the elimination of third-party cookies, while Apple has rendered the IDFA redundant for iOS14. How are you responding to the changes?

GT: All these changes are about creating more privacy and choice for the consumer, and the bottom line is that the customer should get a better, more personalised experience. If that makes it harder for brands and tech companies to track their movements, so be it, we must evolve to meet the needs of the consumer. 

However, this is easier said than done!... Brands and agencies are going to have to lean more heavily into contextual advertising and using 1st party attributes to construct audience segments for targeting. This will open the door to more focused channel selection and reliance on clean and accurate data, but there are still plenty of opportunities for marketers without having to rely on cookies.

MM: Can you give us some examples?

GT: One of the big areas to keep your eye on in particular is in-game advertising, whether that’s traditional gaming or eSports. Driving audience engagement with brand activation and creating a synergy with the brand and the environment in which it’s seen – all to a highly engaged audience – is the ultimate in personalised brand experiences. If you can do that you’ll see significant traction. The virtual world of gaming has opened up the doors to significant scale too. Earlier this year, US rapper Travis Scott performed in front of a virtual audience on Fortnight which reached over 12m people – that’s a space I think is going to really take off.

Product placement in gaming and virtual worlds is a great example of contextual advertising – we’ve recently done some exciting work in this space with a UK car brand.

MM: Digital advertising has had its fair share of bad press over the years. Have you experienced any nervousness or caution from clients around transparency?

GT: For a few years, transparency and trust appeared in every other headline, but I think the industry has taken stock, adjusted its processes, and is on the way to operating a much more open system on the whole.

The way we work is more hands-on, so clients’ campaigns are not victims of automation – something we reject. Instead, we favour a combination of the curation of tech platforms with the power of human intuition to inform the use of AI in a dynamic and adaptable way, providing the best of both worlds.

When it comes to clients’ first-party data, we use B&PO, our audience management platform, to extract owned data which informs a brand’s messaging and targeting, but the client retains higher levels of control, autonomy and precision over that data.