For all its so called “advancements,” digital advertising hasn’t lived up to its potential for brands. And that’s not just my opinion, but also that of marketing executives with large budgets. A recent Millward Brown Digital survey reveals that half of digital marketer respondents agree with this statement: “Digital held promise for brand marketers, but for all its promise, it has never delivered as a branding vehicle.”
It’s failing because it was never designed to help marketers make person-to-brand emotional connections from the start, which is essentially what brand marketers need in order to meet their objectives. When asked what their digital branding objectives are, almost half of respondents—48 percent—said that making emotional connections with people was key. Eighty-eight percent stated that they’d increase ad spending for digital branding campaigns if they could make emotional connections with people.
Even still, many brands have gone on record lately stating that they’re shifting significant portions of their digital ad budgets towards programmatic buying. The downside to this approach is that brand marketers’ objectives don’t align with delivery methods for automated audience targeting buys. For instance, they can’t make emotional connections with people through branding ads bought through ad exchanges, DSPs and Agency Trading Desks. Plus, there is significant data that proves users don’t see or respond to most IAB standard ads (including recs, leaderboards and etc.) and have distain for pre-roll video ads that are commonly bought via programmatic methods.
What’s more, programmatic has spawned a number of issues, including pervasive issues of click fraud, bots, viewability, fraudulent traffic and “banner blindness.” According to the survey, 37 percent of digital marketers said that “banner blindness” concerns them most about buying branding ads bought through programmatic methods. The study found that a large percentage of respondents believe that ads purchased through programmatic methods produce negative customer experiences that damage brand loyalty or negate their branding objectives in other ways.
Programmatic methods that exist today don’t help marketers making meaningful, lasting relationships or inspire people to appreciate their messages, which is the ultimate goal of brand advertising. When asked why they want to make emotional connections with users via digital mediums, over 70 percent of respondents said to build brand recognition, loyalty and trust. That’s because emotion underlies engagement, which affects user’s memory and recall of the ad experience, influencing how they’ll interact with and perceive the brand. In short, marketers believe that making emotional connections will help them build their brand via digital tactics.
Since automated methods can’t replicate this approach, many marketers are skeptical of it. According to eMarketer, a small portion, only 12 percent, of U.S. senior ad agency executives polled said they trusted programmatic buying to properly or accurately execute their ad orders. And over 60 percent of respondents didn’t feel that the advertising industry had an accurate and unified definition for it.
Yet marketers can still achieve digital advertising success in ways that they do trust. For example, 81 percent of respondents said that emotional targeting would help address the issue of “banner blindness” in digital ad campaigns. That’s a good place as any to start.
That’s not to knock programmatic entirely, as it certainly has its place. Automated ad buys executed via private exchanges with premium inventory that support effective, creative units can add value. However, for digital brand marketers to truly engage people, they must appeal to their emotions, produce positive experiences that align with their brand or products and add value for their audience with memorable, engaging and interactive creative messages and units.
Only then can they make people-to-brand connections meaningful.
Ari Brandt is CEO and Co-Founder of MediaBrix, the industry leading ad platform that delivers immersive brand messages during breakthrough moments in gaming. He founded the company in 2011 with current CPO, Jay Drago and their “emotional targeting” is changing the way advertisers reach consumers.