Brand Marketers’ Digital Investments Driven Primarily by Reach

February 21, 2018

Brand marketers’ top reason for investing in digital marketing is also the key factor limiting the success of their digital efforts, per results from a Viant study [download page]. And what is that factor? Audience reach.

In its survey of more than 250 US brand-side digital marketing executives in companies with at least $50 million in revenues, Viant found that the most frequently-cited reason for investing in digital marketing is audience reach.

A related driver – the ability to reach people in media – also figured prominently, as did value and targeting precision.

Measurement and ROI, which have proven challenging in many cases, appear to be a lesser factor for these respondents.

But these same factors that motivate investments in digital marketing – reach, targeting and value – are also proving to be hindrances. In fact, audience reach was the most commonly-cited factor limiting the success of digital efforts, followed by pricing and targeting inaccuracies.

People-Based Marketing Touted for Targeting

One solution promoted by Viant (which bills itself as a “premier people-based advertising technology company”) is… people-based advertising.

The promise of people-based marketing, in this case, is solving targeting issues. According to the survey’s results, poor targeting is the most common challenge witnessed by brand marketers when relying on cookies in digital advertising.

This is where people-based marketing steps in: by far the most common motivation given for taking a people-based marketing approach is more effective targeting of consumers.

The result: better performance compared to cookie-based campaigns, per 86% of respondents.

It’s possible that the results are biased in favor of this approach, as the vast majority of respondents are engaged in people-based campaigns and therefore likely to believe it’s an effective approach.

Interestingly enough, the report found that while 93% run people-based marketing campaigns across social channels such as Facebook and Twitter, far fewer (58%) do so on the open web.

This limitation to “walled gardens” has been a key concern of people-based advertising: in a study about people-based advertising released in 2016, Signal and Econsultancy found that 74% of North American advertisers were concerned about giving the “walled gardens” too much information about their customers when using their solutions. Likewise, 77% were concerned about not receiving user-level data from the “walled gardens” like Facebook and Google, for uses like attribution.

The main concern at the time, though – and one that is likely taking on more prominence these days with the upcoming GDPR regulations? A consumer backlash or new privacy regulations in response to people-based advertising (addressable media), which left 82% of advertisers surveyed either very (21%) or somewhat (61%) concerned.

Other Findings:

In other highlights from Viant’s report:

  • Some 63% of respondents believe the industry will no longer rely on cookies within the next 2 years;
  • For almost 6 in 10 respondents, being able to link in-store sales to online advertising activity is very important;
  • Close to 6 in 10 (57%) agree that the most effective data in their ad campaigns comes from first-party data based on client interactions with customers;
  • Half of respondents use offline CRM data for targeting online campaigns;
  • Half are very confident that they have the right first-party data sets to make people-based marketing work effectively; and
  • The share of digital advertising budgets allocated people-based advertising is expected to rise from 24% last year to 29% this year.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey conducted in September 2017
by independent market research company, Censuswide. The research polled more than 250 brand-side digital marketing executives in companies with $50M+ in revenue in the U.S. People-based marketing was defined as “The ability to advertise to real people across their linked devices, using registered user data rather than relying on cookies.”


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