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Four ways to enhance customer experience using programmatic

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26th Nov 2015
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When Econsultancy announced its predictions for 2015 at the beginning of the year, marketers pinpointed customer experience (CX) as the single most exciting opportunity for the 12 months ahead. This was surprising to some as it was more important than areas such as content marketing, mobile, personalisation and Big Data. However, as consumer power continues to grow, I believe the importance of CX will only continue to increase.

It’s one of the most crucial elements in the marketing armoury as great CX allows brands to not only create stronger relationships, but also to differentiate themselves from their competition.  But what has programmatic – an automated and algorithmically driven form of ad technology – got to do with something so essentially human as customer experience?

Programmatic’s value in CX stems from its ability to enhance those critical moments when consumers connect with a brand and create joined up customer experiences. Lying at the intersection of data and personalisation, it uses consumer insight from terabytes of data which enables you to customise messaging and, in a fraction of a second, deliver the most appropriate iteration of an ad campaign to the recipient. It makes it possible to draw on hundreds of thousands of variations of the same ad with different soundtracks, clothing and dialogue that match the interests of the customer. This is powerful stuff which speaks to the heart of great CX: customers want to receive messaging that is relevant to them and will appreciate that you’ve taken the effort to get to know what makes them tick. 

Relevancy is essential in CX. A sports brand can send someone fantastic offers on the latest ski gear, let them have access to exclusive content around the World Ski Championships and invite them to exclusive events with the worlds’ top skiers – but if that person isn’t a ski enthusiast, this does not add up to great CX. If anything, it turns them off the brand which clearly just doesn’t ‘get’ them.

Today’s consumer is savvy about how brand marketing works and increasingly understands how advertisers use data. This means they are happy to provide brands they trust with personal data as a trade off for better, more relevant experiences. It’s important to incorporate this kind of ‘value exchange’ in marketing – but just as important to respect it. It’s incredibly irritating for consumers to know that they’ve told a company about themselves and see this information totally ignored in the communications they are sent. 

Optimising programmatic for CX

As programmatic is providing more and more advertisers with the means to deliver relevancy in real time across multiple channels, below are the key elements and considerations which advertisers need to take into account in order to optimise its role in delivering better CX:

  • Segmentation: In order to get to know your customer, you need to take time to build intelligent segmentation. It’s now possible to capture and analyse vast amounts of data, but segmentation is the key to making sense of the data and acting on its insight in a way that is manageable. By identifying your key customer groups and their own distinct needs, interests, likes, dislikes and aspirations, whether they are existing or new customers, etc, you can start to build your creative strategy for each segment. Segmentation is the driver behind dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) which is the technology that delivers the ad to the recipient, tailored in real time. 
  • Technology profile: Incorporate an understanding of the user’s technology profile – e.g. browser, device used, use of Flash, etc, so that the ads are delivered in the most usable way for the consumer, wherever and however they are seeing the ad. Many advertisers not yet embracing cross-device attribution, but getting this right can have a significant impact on CX. 
  • Frequency: Seeing the same ad over and over again as you browse can be very frustrating. Getting frequency of ad exposure right is an important, but undervalued aspect of digital advertising. And yet, most campaigns still have a one-size-fits-all approach to frequency capping. Mismanagement of  frequency by a brand not only leads to poor CX for its customers, it ultimately wastes ad spend as people  become blind to your message and there is very little chance of conversion.
    Marketers therefore need to ensure that their programmatic activity creates an holistic view of frequency management. Consumers are likely to visit more than one online publication, so frequency capping needs to be controlled across the whole campaign for an individual across multiple sites, rather than for each site they visit (which is what typically happens). Frequency should also be planned meticulously according to where a consumer sits on the customer lifecycle. For example, for a new customer you may need to serve the ad six times in order for them to fully understand your message. However, for an existing customer then three exposures may be sufficient. If someone doesn’t respond, serve up a totally different creative message.
  • Evaluation: When evaluating programmatic campaigns, consider how to measure the customer experience element. However, think beyond the bland definition of ‘better engagement’ as  CX should deliver a measurable impact on eCPM and ROI. Brands also need to evaluate their effectiveness in managing fraud and brand safety. Effective programmatic makes sure that ads are delivered to humans within safe brand environments as doing so is another important element in optimising results and CX. CX is about ongoing consumer relationships across the whole customer lifecycle – not just one campaign – so advertisers must learn what delivers the best CX and apply these learnings to the next campaign. 

Every touchpoint a brand has with a customer is part of customer experience. As programmatic extends its role across more communication channels, it has become another lever in the CX toolbox which brands should leverage. 

Mike Peralta is CEO at AudienceScience.

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