Digital marketing is allowing for increasingly precise channels of communication. The barriers to reach are disappearing. The key to connecting with today’s consumers is being relevant.
Google recently conducted interviews of advertisers and creatives to get their opinions on what types of video ads stop viewers from hitting the skip button.
Within their answers one word keeps cropping up: relevancy.
One advertisers states:
Before, we used to interrupt people and tell them what we wanted them to know. Now we know more about our audience, and we can make all of the content more contextually relevant — and, ultimately, more meaningful to them.
It’s stated that the real multiplier effect comes from combing reach and relevance to create highly personalized content.
This all sounds quite magical, but it’s also challenging. Content must be meaningful and interesting, but it also has to be delivered at just the right time.
The Relevancy Connection
What is relevancy? How does it apply to advertising?
When it comes to relevancy, there are two things to consider.
The first is the ability of the content to engage its audience. Relevant content is interesting, informative, enticing, and entertaining. It must be able to catch people’s attention so they don’t just hit the skip/back button or scroll right over it.
Second, relevant content is timely. This, in fact, is equally important for advertisements. You really gain the relevancy connection when your offer is something your audience needs now.
For an ad to be relevant, it must be interesting enough to capture the attention of easily distracted web surfers and presented with timing that maximizes the possibility the audience will convert.
And now for my next miracle…
Connecting to Intent
As a small business owner, you’d be excused for thinking all this sounds like some kind of joke. All you have to do is be wildly entertaining while having perfect timing.
And you’d be right – if this was 5 years ago.
But today, this level of relevancy is the name of the game.
There are a couple of important things to acknowledge here.
The first is that your advertisements must be as interesting and engaging as possible. You could be trying to sell a glass of water to a person dying of thirst, and even then it would be hard to get their attention on the internet.
Second, to give yourself any chance at all you have to target people who are thirsty – at the moment they see your ad.
Strategically, the idea here is not to create content so fascinating and captivating that it takes on immediate relevancy for people. This isn’t Game of Thrones.
There is a lot of advice that implies that advertisers need to be that creative for their ads to work. But in real practice, this is just about impossible. Almost no businesses can create content relevant to their brand that has truly scintillating entertainment value.
Instead, you must be contextually relevant. You have to put your ads in front of people who are in the market for your offer. That is the crux of advertising relevancy.
Buying Intent Data
So how do you do you target people based on strong buying intent?
In a word, data. Today, platforms like Google and Facebook have so much data on users that it’s making it possible to target relevant ads with precision.
You get this from data called intent signals. For example, say you want to sell someone a set of golf clubs.
In the past, you’d guess at demographic that might be most likely to buy the type of clubs you sell (say men ages 35-60) or use psychographics to target people interested in golf.
With intent signals, you can serve ads to people who searched for deals on golf club sets, spent time scouting vacations at golf resorts or scrolled though golf products on a shopping app.
All of that data indicates that a person is in the market for golf clubs now. Therefore, a captivating ad for a deal on the types of clubs they’re looking for is far more likely to be relevant.
Customizing At Scale
For this level of personal relevancy to be effective, ad creatives also need to be personalized.
Again, technology must do work that it would be impossible to do manually.
For example, Director Mix is a tool that automates video creatives and allows for the creation of thousands of variations based on data from the target audience.
Campbell’s Soup used this tool to reach key audiences with personalized soup ads. For instance, people who watched clips of the prison program “Orange is the New Black” saw the headline “Does your cooking make prison food seem tasty? We’ve got a soup for that.” But people who searched for Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” were asked if they needed “dinner for one”.
This is what we mean by contextualized relevance.
Relevancy Over Reach
Advertisers have often prized reach. The Super Bowl Ad, the viral campaign…
But in the age of relevancy marketing, reach is overrated.
I read a recent overview in which an advertiser pointed out that Amazon didn’t have the reach of Google.
But so what? Today, it doesn’t matter if you can reach a huge audience when the majority of that audience doesn’t care about your offer.
Instead, you have to connect with the right audience, which is the audience for which your offer is relevant.
From Anxiety to Expectation
The technology we are discussing here has been in development for the last several years and continues to get more robust.
Likewise, people are aware that Google and Facebook track their online activities in detail.
The privacy issue involved with relevancy targeting continues to be a source of consternation. Facebook, in particular, seems to be in an ongoing PR battle over how it handles user’s data.
But there is another side to this coin. People know that as they use the internet, they’ll be exposed to advertisements.
They don’t just want those ads to be relevant to them. They expect it.
Otherwise, as we’ve outlined here, they not only won’t pay attention to ads, they’ll be annoyed by the interruption.
Consumers can’t have it both ways. If we want relevant ads for products we desire, we have to allow the systems that deliver those ads to gather data on our lives.
People say they don’t want ads, but that’s not really true. We want to buy things; we all have material needs. We are constantly wanting to shop.
The act of buying isn’t something foisted upon us by greedy advertisers.
The consumer’s desire for relevant ads and the ability of advertisers to deliver them is changing the social contract between the two.
Consumers have feared letting advertisers know too much about them because we think we’ll be bothered by ads ad nauseam. We feared our info would be passed off to other firms selling offbeat junk or get rich quick scams.
Now technology promises an age of hyper-relevant ads personalized at the individual level.
We’re giving up some privacy, because we demanded it.
There’s no going back.
It’s time to make the new contract work. Advertisers need to target people with highly relevant ads they’ll welcome. Consumers need to be willing to let those advertisers gain insights into their lives and interest.
There is a wonderful product you really want for sale, but you don’t know about yet. The business, of course, really want to sell it to you.
Imagine the perfect ad for this product displaying to you at just the right moment. You’ll say Yes, this is just what I wanted!
That’s relevant advertising.