After a phenomenally exciting and volatile 2012, it’s clear that 2013 is off to an equally unpredictable start. But in a brave attempt to look into the future, here are 10 marketing technologies, companies and trends that I believe we’ll surely see more of over the next 12 months.
The exponential rise in tablet and smartphone ownership over the past 18 months has led to a dramatic change in the way that consumers research and purchase products. According to The New Multi-Screen World study commissioned by Google in 2012, 67% of people have used multiple devices sequentially to shop online.
As the number of devices used in the average household increases, traditional tracking methods stand to become increasingly obsolete. As performance marketers, we all want to ensure our valuable marketing pounds are getting a good ROI – and assuming that the consumer-journey will take place on one device may be convenient, but it simply isn’t likely.
This is where device-bridging comes in. One of the first companies to really explore this area is Drawbridge. In their own words, Drawbridge uses an algorithm that ‘estimates the probability that an arbitrary desktop cookie (from a browser on a desktop or laptop) and a mobile cookie (from a mobile browser or in app) belong to the same user’.
Use this data correctly and you not only have a much more accurate picture of consumer behaviour, but you open up a whole new world of possibilities for multi-device marketing.
Everyone is familiar with the high Click-Through-Rates and Conversion Rates that retargeting can offer but towards the end of 2012, we have started to see several companies that specialise in this area branching out into pre-targeting. Whether or not this technology can produce the same volume and CPA performance as its older sibling remains to be seen, but the fact that pretargeting can be used by advertisers to target consumers that might not have previously even considered their brand makes it potentially more valuable.
Pre-targeting by myThings is the first-of-its-kind display acquisition solution that leverages visual recognition data to decipher a user's explicit shopping intent. Targeting only quality, in-market users and engaging them with intent-driven banners, pretargeting serves as a powerful new addition to merchants' performance marketing toolbox. As Benny Arbel, CEO of myThings states: "Personalised retargeting has been proven to be one of the best performance marketing options in the market. To further boost scale, going up the funnel to acquire new users is vital and that's where pretargeting fits in, complementing existing acquisition solutions.”
Deloitte’s research into the Rise and Rise of Second-Screening shows that roughly a quarter of us use second screens while watching TV, with the figure doubling for those aged 16-24. If we can be sure of anything in performance marketing, it is that this number will surely increase in 2013.
Shazam has been at the forefront of this shift in behaviour, extending its popular app so that viewers can now ‘Shazam’ TV programmes and advertising using the ‘audio fingerprinting’ it normally employs to help consumers discover new music. In fact, 50,000 viewers used the Shazam App to tag the Pepsi MAX and Cadbury ads in just 60 seconds during special ad breaks during the final of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ in 2012. Exclusive content and contests were unlocked for viewers who tagged the Shazamable TV campaign. Is 2013 the year that TV finally becomes a performance marketing platform?
Big Data is such a buzzword that I felt compelled to include it in this Top 10. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the term as I feel the use of it can often detract from the detail of what a company/product is trying to achieve. Whatever you want to call it, having more data about the potential customer is a good thing for marketers: it means we can deliver more relevant, personalised products/offers and ultimately add value for the end user - increasing the ROI of our campaigns. We have recently started working with the Met Office to analyse how changing weather conditions affects our advertisers’ sales and this type of use of data will become increasingly common this year.
Integrated points of sale
2012 was a year when Research Online Purchase Offline (ROPO) was embraced by many retailers as an important part of their overall marketing strategy. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of making this a truly seamless process, where the offline sales can be accurately attributed to the responsible online marketing channel.
At this point it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what technology will prevail in this area. Apple’s snubbing of NFC for the iPhone 5 in favour of its “Passbook” has meant that a number of other solutions have emerged. Eagle Eye recently provided the distribution, redemption and reporting technology behind a campaign for Harvester restaurants aimed at iOS 6 users with the Passbook app, allowing full visibility and attribution of an online campaign for an offline product.
Integrated Performance Technology
As affiliate marketing expands and matures, some of the larger merchants can benefit from managing all or some of their own publisher base in-house, using white labelled solutions which are cost-effective and can increase ROI. Often used in conjunction with a public network, the combination of network and technology platform really does have the potential to offer certain merchants the best of all worlds efficiently and at scale. This means offering a self-managed solution when it appears to be the best value for the advertiser and at the same time ensuring that the level of expertise on offer from the network when it comes to managing the public affiliate programme, justifies the performance model it is being charged on. DSPs,SSPs,DEMs,RTB,etc.
Although we’re not quite at the stage where we’re seeing networks and publishers using Demand Side Platforms and Supply Side Platforms on a daily basis (it’s still very much dominated by CPM/CPC), Real-Time Bidding is now used across many different areas of digital marketing. This, combined with acquisition-focused display tech such as Re/Pre-targeting, means that it’s not entirely implausible that we’ll start to see Display Engine Marketing making a sizeable contribution (in one form or another: think arbitrage) to the sales that affiliate networks are driving in 2013 for their advertisers - all on a CPA basis.
Mark Zuckerberg famously lost $4.7bn in just six days as investors began to question just how much ad-revenue Facebook could pull in. It’s not an unfair question – although “FB” has made somewhat of a recovery, the consensus so far is that Facebook simply doesn’t deliver the ROI required in the digital marketing world.
I, for one, will be very surprised if Facebook is not able to remedy that issue this year. It has the users, it simply needs to find a more inventive way to monetise them – a problem that Twitter isn‘t necessarily likely to share. Enter Forward3D: their work with Twitter’s API allows them to create targeted tweets for advertisers on a CPA basis. As Wulfric Light-Wilkinson of Forward3D explains: “Striking the balance between making a return from Social media outreach and annoying users is a very difficult thing to achieve. We use a mixture of our clients' brand guide lines and good staff training and high volume Big Data linguistic analysis technology to intelligently target the right users with the right proposition when they need it. This works especially well with Twitter where immediacy is key and typical users are in more likely to be receptive to a commercial message when asking a question as opposed to Facebook where they're in more of a browse mode and entertainment focused.
Judging by what we read in the industry press, it feels like the end of the “last click wins” model has been on the cards for years now – but I don’t think we’ll see a shift away from the model for the majority of advertisers this year. However, this isn’t to say that understanding the user-journey isn’t important, because it should remain as the cornerstone of performance marketing. User-journey analysis will face some significant challenges this year, notably from the growth of multi-device purchasing behaviour, so it is important that the companies providing this data are able to adapt accordingly.
After promising much for several years, mobile finally exploded into life in 2012. Although the networks knew it was coming, the speed by which m-commerce has grown over the past 12 months seems to have taken many advertisers by surprise.
In-depth research on mobile consumer behaviour and how mobile device-type influences the consumer purchasing journey have created a wealth of information and best practice which helps clients generate incremental revenue from this growing channel. Tradedoubler has even been able to crack the lucrative app marketplace with the first performance marketing model designed for app marketing campaigns. Networks owe it to publishers to be able to track and remunerate them for any transactions they generate, or risk losing publishers to competitors’ programmes.
Performance marketing has always been on the cutting edge, eager to embrace new technologies that are often subsequently adopted by other marketing channels. Personally, I can only see this being reaffirmed in 2013 – the very nature of our industry means that we need to quickly keep abreast of changes in consumer behaviour, and react accordingly. Some of the trends and technologies listed above present serious challenges and potential changes to the way we do business on a daily basis, but if any channel can make it work - it’s performance marketing.