Mirroring the Consumer Experience: The key to better advertising

Kathleen Comer, Vice President of Client Services at The Trade Desk
Kathleen Comer, Vice President of Client Services at The Trade Desk

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Think about your typical day as a consumer. If you’re anything like me, you may begin your day sifting through news stories and updates on your phone from bed. During your commute, you’ll rock out to your favorite stations on iHeartRadio. At the office, you’re in work mode, focused on creating next year’s marketing plans on your laptop. In the evening, you wield your spatula alongside the competitors of Chopped, streaming Food Network on your Roku.

All this to say, media today is much more than simply “media”. It has become an extension of consumers, themselves – so deeply integrated into their everyday lives and routines that it has become an expression of their personalities, their interests, and their choices. For example, based on The Trade Desk’s proprietary data, Australian fathers between the ages of 18-34 with one to two young children tend to be Melbourne Cup superfans. On the other side of the globe, along the US east coast, many mothers are spending time on family and parenting websites and shopping for celebrity-endorsed perfumes. This type of rich data, provided by digital media, can tell you a lot about a consumer. The devices they use, the apps they peruse, the content they engage with, and the channels they browse at any given moment are all indications of the types of consumers they are: what they’re in the market for and what matters to them.

Considering that U.S. adults now spend nearly half their day consuming media, the lines between humans and their digital extremities are blurring more and more. So, as new opportunities – new devices, inventory, channels, and formats – emerge for advertisers, it is crucial for brands to rethink how they’re keeping up with their exceedingly connected audiences. The key lies in a new approach to consumer engagement. By creating coordinated multi-channel campaigns that mirror consumer behavior, advertisers are able to connect digital advertising for an experience that is adaptable and relevant to consumers at any and every point in their day.

Embrace the new type of consumer.

In recent years, with the rise of connected devices, consumers have become, what I like to call, media agnostics. They refuse to commit to a single channel or device, preferring to switch either between them or sometimes use them simultaneously, depending on the moment.

In fact, Spotify stats reveal that podcast and music streaming spikes during weekday afternoons when the majority of us are likely working away on our laptops. And, let’s be honest, we’re all guilty of multitasking during those evening Netflix binges, with 88% of US adults simultaneously using other devices while watching television.

Media usage now is completely driven by a consumer’s environment at any point in time. Listening to music on your phone while browsing the headlines of the New York Times app makes sense when you’re on the subway. Once you get to work, though, you’ll likely switch over to the browser on your laptop. Ultimately, you’ll choose whichever option is most convenient and most natural for you at that particular moment.

Think fluid, not fragmented.

The consequence of today’s media agnostic consumers are fragmented customer journeys and an incomplete picture of the consumer – a notorious pain point amongst marketers everywhere. But the truth is that customer fragmentation isn’t entirely to blame for these frustrations. Yes, consumers shift seamlessly between various channels and across multiple devices. But the real fragmented journeys are the ones we, as advertisers, are creating ourselves.

The problem stems from the fact that even though the consumer experience is not dictated by devices and channels, advertisers continue to build and budget their media buys as though it is. Investment across multiple “specialty” buying platforms that don’t speak to one another leads to advertising experiences that, you guessed it, don’t speak to one another. In fact, according to eMarketer, 67% of marketers cited lack of cross-channel customer analytics as a key challenge – the consequence being missed opportunities and terrible consumer experiences.

Mirror the media agnostics.

To close the gap on all things cross-device and cross-channel, it’s crucial that advertisers mirror the media agnostic nature of their consumers – a feat only achievable through a holistic advertising strategy. By housing their full media plans – no matter the device, channel, or ad format—under the same roof, advertisers can tap into tactics and insights that are impossible to implement across multiple platforms.

Doing so drives seamless engagement of customers at scale, and it means that brands can take action on their otherwise siloed pools of data. Because a holistic strategy requires that campaigns are built and executed in one place, each strategy can speak to the other, informing future campaign optimizations. Most importantly, though, advertisers will no longer be limited by varying reach and targeting capabilities. Instead, brands can implement their messaging at a global level and with the mere push of a programmatic button.

Ultimately, with everything housed under one roof, your buys, your budget and your data can all flow seamlessly between the devices, channels, and formats in question. As a result, brands will meet consumers at their media-filled fingertips, no matter which device or channel strikes their fancy at any given moment. And for consumers, whether at the office or in the kitchen, the ads become a natural part of their everyday lives, complimenting their media experiences while driving value for brands.