Five things you need to do in 2018 to ensure your digital campaigns outperform your competition

By Robert Webster, Chief Strategy Officer, Crimtan

If you’re a brand or agency looking to get the most from your digital ad spend in 2018 (and outperform your competition), it’s important that you stay ahead of the latest trends and industry changes.

So as we enter our second week of the new year, we thought we’d look at some of the big developments happening now and over the next 12 months, and how they affect you.
Five things you need to do in 2018

As a result, we’ve identified five important actions you really can’t afford to ignore if you want to maximise the results from your digital advertising – and acquire, retain and increase the value of your customers (and keep your clients happy).
1) Adapt how you’re using and buying data

Many column inches have been devoted to advice for companies preparing for the GDPR. Less discussed are the planning implications for digital media, which will become a key area of focus in the run up to GDPR implementation in May.

Planners will have to be nimble and understand the data implications, and while things will change between now and May and beyond, we know that the data planning landscape will change.

It is likely that email list volumes, retargeting volumes and behavioural segments will decrease in size (and perhaps increase in value), and that the cost of opted in user data will rise. This dynamic will also increase the value of other forms of data and tactics swamped by over use of cookies.

Data such as detailed location data, time, device and situation (home, work, roaming) can become much more important for targeting and indexing and allow for other forms of data to be mapped in (demographics, weather, events, social, other forms of media). The best media plans in 2018 will be those that understand and best use this new paradigm.
2) Use transparency to turbocharge business outcomes

2017 was the year of transparency in digital advertising – and rightly so. Advertisers are demanding to know where their money goes in return for longer term media engagements. These two factors of transparency and commitment being a very important yin and yang, with marketing outcomes becoming the next battleground.

As well as transparency, advertisers have the right to demand specific outcomes from their media and ad technology spend. These can include direct response revenue and sales, brand engagements but also hygiene factors such as viewability, delivering to human traffic and brand safety.

What does this mean in practice? Well it means that buying points will shift further to “Cost per viewable impression”, “Cost per engagement”, “Cost per second in view” as well the traditional CPA and CPL. When not used as buying points these metrics will be increasingly used as key elements of performance benchmarks.
3) Update your attribution policies

The concept of a web page impression is over 20 years old now, and is now enhanced with data on viewability, human traffic, dwell time as well as format and placement. The click is now superseded by the land, engagement, touch, video play and more.

Attribution policies need to catch up and understand the value of these enhanced concepts – for both direct response and brand measurement. The data exists and there is gold for those who can mine it, make sense of the data and apply it to reveal insights that improve overall marketing ROI.
4) Increase the intelligence of your creative

Advertisers that use intelligent creative platforms can gain a real edge in the market. The combination of dynamic creative with more sophisticated templates, more delivery options and an integrated data layer can transform a digital media campaign.

Creative can be personalised and stay within the principles of the GDPR. And, crucially, creative can be tactical and take advantage of sales periods, hot products, promotions and fresh content. The standard of dynamic creative is still very low across the industry and ripe for growth in 2018.
5) Nurture the right talent

Having the right talent is still the biggest hurdle to running the best marketing programs. People who understand programmatic, intelligent creative, data and attribution as an aggregate are almost as rare as the proverbial unicorn.

Yet talent does exist in almost all organisations, and a new generation of marketer is emerging that can maximise the programmatic opportunities available. Some years from now the machines may take over, But in 2018, identifying, developing and retaining top talent is the way to go.
And two things you don’t need to worry about until later

As important as it is to ensure you’re planning and implementing campaigns that reflect current best practice, you can’t follow every last tip or prediction.

To help you focus your energies on developments and changes that matter now, we’ve identified two big topics that you can put on hold for later.
1) Block chains

Block chains have huge potential and will, over time, transform the digital world and have some awesome applications in ad tech.

The ability for a block chain ledger to record transactions, thereby boosting transparency and brand safety is one use case that we can expect to emerge. Another example is using a block chain ledger to enable users to manage their opt-ins across a wide base of companies – although it won’t happen in time for the GDPR.

Block chain systems will need widespread adoption to become useful in mainstream marketing and there are technical issues around speed and hardware resource that need to be overcome. Blockchains will be an area widely talked about in 2018 but not a big area for change just yet. Future years though will be very different.
2) True AI

Strong AI/General AI or human level machine intelligence is also many years from revolutionising marketing. This revolution will occur but, right now, true AI in marketing is a myth.

To explain: Specific AI is designed to solve individual tasks such as optimising programmatic campaigns, recognising images or language are very important – although these are really enhancements to machine learning and algorithmic approaches that have been happening for at least 10 years.

The difference is that specific AI (advanced machine learning) can only solve that individual problem, whereas a general AI can solve any problem thrown at it. For digital marketing point of view, a specific AI or algorithm can be good at a tactical level – how to optimise a campaign for example – but has no view on overall planning and buying strategy.

This won’t prevent you seeing a huge numbers of articles about how AI can transform your business in 2018, so something that won’t change in 2018 is our industry’s habit for hyperbole and jumping on the next available bandwagon!
Find out how we can make 2018 your best year yet

If you’d like to ensure that your advertising spend delivers the best possible results for you in 2018, please get in touch. We’ll happily explain how our unique blend of proprietary data and intelligent creative can transform your campaigns – and leave your competition standing.