Enhanced: Today’s Pain, Tomorrow’s Love
Google Enhanced is the online marketing advice-giver’s gift that keeps on giving for 2013. By now, everyone touching search has been in several hours of meetings discussing these changes and where they will take us (mostly in the short-term), and has probably written or consumed at least one FAQ, eBook or White Paper on the subject.
Feature roll-outs with APIs and a little bit of insanity in trying to get your numbers to match up are all necessary bumps on the road to truly optimizing. This yields the way for Google (and subsequently, every publisher) to ultimately optimize on a person-by-person basis. Campaigns will be customized not just by device, but by the very essence of what makes us solid, human targets for advertisers.
Device Vs. People Targeting
Once we get beyond the tactical components, like shifts in ad formats, we can look to a brighter future in a more efficient, sponsored digital communications environment.
One of the core pain points in moving from device to people targeting is the inevitable conversation with upper management communicating the contradictory marketing tactics the Enhanced environment has forced upon us. Like Google+ or the ever-changing technical guidelines for healthy SEO, we have little choice in implementing Enhanced tactics. Yet, we’ve been programming marketers to believe that device-centered approaches in communicating messaging and seeking desired actions was the best marketing practice.
Simply abandoning a device-centric approach would be irresponsible, as it has been proven that these tactics are effective. Generally speaking, losing money while your media vendor tries to sort out its ad management platform doesn’t excite any of the CMOs I know. Dismantling or configuring existing technology to accommodate the people-centric focus is going to take time.
Shifting strategy is an enormous, painful undertaking, but changing tactics is a demanding and necessary task in the online marketing universe. A solid, long-term strategic framework for a brand lies in communicating a message that provides a creative experience on a personal level. Publishers aim to net premium prices for ad inventory, and more effective, timelier ad consumption experiences for people will get them there.
A people-centric approach is the best way to do that. The only questions lie in the timing of adoption, stability of the product road map and Google’s ability to keep marketers informed about the decisions they will have to make. Failure in this effort, I fear, will have big consequences.
As we absorb and implement the road map and evolve our tactics to become more people focused, Google will no longer be so reliant on search ad revenue, and we’ll have a truer picture of how our target customers take the actions we desire.
I get a sense from talking to brands and publishers selling ad inventory that we all want the same things. However you might feel about migrating tactics, Google’s enhanced tides will help a lot of ships out of some dangerous shallow water.
Content Consumption Experience Dilemma
A consistent content consumption experience for me would be delivering the same experience as I move between environments: automotive, home, office and anywhere else I go.
Right now, we have multiple devices; tomorrow, we may still have multiple devices, but we’ll have a consistent experience while we move through each environment. Ultimately, we’ll have better means to attribute the path to desired action in our marketing efforts.
Right now, we don’t have people — we have devices. It’s baffling to me that with all the data we are getting, we don’t seem to be getting the right data — but, I have high hopes.
Marketers have been a little too quick to label people as “android” or “apple” by observing simple reactive analysis of behavior based on imperfect data coming from imperfect devices on imperfect platforms. For example, if purchase incidents are higher for a particular product, like a luxury brand or considered purchase, it’s easy to assume that Apple people buy more because they are savvier than say, your average Galaxy Tab user. Well, that’s not entirely true since apps, sites, landing pages and ads appear and function differently on both devices. The Android user may be moving to a bigger screen, better text input platform or device he trusts more, like his keyboard-enabled device.
I’d love to be able to move from room to room with a consistent experience without logging into multiple devices and worrying about whether or not my identity is safe on this OS or experiencing spotty coverage on a device or driving myself crazy trying to orient a screen by constantly adjusting it.
The people-targeting strategy also supports the simple, unavoidable, harsh truth that devices fail, apps function imperfectly and multi-device (or omni-channel, if you are playing along with the buzzword bingo home game) consumption still isn’t as reliable as it should be.
When I turn on my television, I push a button, and 99.9% of the time when I select a channel, it goes there. That’s all I want from my content-consumption devices. Once we have a consistent experience, we’ll have a better way to give people what they want and advertisers what they need.
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