In the previous installments of this blog series, we showed you the origins of the advertising industry, and explained how the digital era changed the dynamics of ad agencies. We even discussed the types of digital agencies that have emerged in the new era. By now you have a better understanding of the prominent place digital agencies hold in today’s advertising industry.
BUT these days just being a ‘digital agency’ is not enough. To stand out from the crowd these agencies need to employ marketing technologies that will give them and their clients a real leg up in the digital landscape. This brings us to our third and final installment of this series where we have determined what a digital agency needs to do to be successful in the future of digital advertising.
What does the future of digital marketing look like?
According to Statista, digital marketing spend in the U.S. was over $57 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow beyond $103 billion by 2019. Evidently there is no slowing down; digital marketing is here to stay. But this should come as no surprise because marketers (at least smart ones) go where their consumers go.
Today almost everywhere you look at least one person is Instagramming a selfie, watching content on their tablets, checking their Twitter feed, or engaging somehow on any form of digital media – enabled by technology. Everyone is using more than one device to access the digital realm. (Take me for instance, using a desktop to write this, my iPhone to play music in the background while simultaneously checking my email, Twitter feed and Facebook).
In this ‘always connected, always on’ and, most of all, ‘always changing’ world, brands are relying more and more on digital agencies to keep their brands connected to consumers. So what are top digital agencies doing to maintain relevance with their audiences, whose interests and concerns are changing at light speed? What trends should they be aware of in order to be successful in the digital future?
1. Digital Agencies Must Be Informed
First and foremost, expectations are certainly higher for digital agencies. It’s not enough to just be a digital agency anymore. Clients expect that their agencies are fully immersed in the digital ad environment, aware of new and emerging technologies and have the capabilities to apply them to their brands. For example, mobile advertising is a recent trend that agencies need to understand to leverage for their clients’ brands. Why? As of 2014, mobile internet usage eclipsed PC usage – likely the biggest shift in internet usage since the web was invented. It’s now imperative for brands to be accessible via mobile.
How can digital agencies ensure client brands are ready for mobile? Brand websites need to be optimized for mobile use. This is an absolute must for two reasons: first, it is very likely a visitor is already accessing your website from a mobile device rather than desktop. Secondly, Google recently released their new search algorithm which now takes into consideration the ‘mobile-friendliness’ of your site when ranking it. This ‘Mobilegiddon’ essentially makes it a requirement for brands to use responsive design when developing online properties. It’s more incentive to make your site mobile friendly.
Digital agencies should also make mobile advertising a priority because of the opportunities it affords brands to reach consumers in a space where they are already paying attention. These days people don’t go anywhere without their mobile device and its almost second nature to be browsing on your phone while doing everything else in your daily routine; watching TV, taking public transit, cooking, even while talking on the phone! Given our tendencies to give so much attention to our phone screens, it makes sense for advertisers to reach consumers in this space. Unlike TV commercials, billboards, or transit posters, mobile ads don’t have to fight as hard for our attention because it’s already there.
2. Be relevant.
With the digital realm moving at such a fast pace, digital agencies are expected to keep up. First, when producing campaigns, digital elements should be relevant to audiences now or even future trends, not what they were doing a year ago. For example, the next major trend in the digital landscape that digital agencies should employ to stay relevant is online video ads.
On average, online video ads get 3 times more clicks than any other digital ad format. The high engagement rates are contributing to the growth of this type of digital advertising as online video ad revenue is forecasted to reach nearly $5 billion in 2016. So why the surge in popularity of this ad medium?
We have a couple guesses. First, brands are finding ways to seamlessly incorporate content into social media feeds like Facebook and Instagram so that users feel more like they are engaging in a friend’s story vs. succumbing to an advertisement. therefore it’s not surprising that video ads are the preference of consumers (as demonstrated by high engagement rates).
The second key to being relevant when executing campaigns is for agencies to have the ability to react quickly to real-time changes and events. A classic example of a brand being relevant is when Oreo tweeted ‘You can still dunk in the dark” during the power outage at the Super Bowl XLVII. This tweet generated more than 20 000 shares on Twitter and Facebook and garnered 525 million earned media impressions. They reacted to a real time change in an event that attracted millions of viewers with a message that was completely on brand point.
3. Be able to measure success.
This is the another element digital agencies need to master in order to succeed in the future of digital advertising. Luckily, the benefit of digital marketing is the ability to track results (in the form of data) in real-time. So really, there is no excuse for a digital agency not to be able to track results.
Follow these steps to measure success effectively:
- Create objectives: Prior to executing a campaign you need to define and outline how success will be measured. In addition to an overall goal, you should also establish goals throughout the campaign to help meet your end goal.
- Set up tracking system: Next you need to ensure that what you want to achieve is actually measurable and you have the technology in place to do so.
- Track, Measure, Adjust: Finally, from the second the campaign is launched you need to track the activity, measure your progress daily and make adjustments if it doesn’t look like you will meet your goals.
4. Be driven by data.
Big Data, I’m sure you’ve heard it before and you will hear it again. With the plethora of information available online and the 24/7 connectivity people have to it, there is an abundance of data being generated every second. With this much data being generated it is obviously impossible to be able to sort through and understand it all. And yet, digital agencies are expected to provide clients with the most relevant and real time information in the industry and make informed decisions based on this data. This is where marketing technologies come into play, which gives us access to the data most relevant to our markets and consumers so that marketers and digital ad agencies can optimize strategies accordingly.
How can digital agencies employ these tools to make their clients stand out from the crowd?
Well, for starters, using competitive intelligence tools such as WhatRunsWhere can give agencies a better understanding of the digital advertising landscape. How? We provide a detailed look into how competitors are running their advertisements online so that smarter, more optimized campaigns can be built and combined with highly informed media buys.
How WhatRunsWhere can be used to optimize digital strategies:
Identify valuable leads and key business opportunities: Uncover key business partners and clients in the digital advertising space and effortlessly qualify leads to grow sales.
Benchmark goals with measurable success: Use WhatRunsWhere to evaluate your strategy against leading industry campaigns and major competitors.
Monitor Advertising Compliance: Easily keep tabs on how and where agencies, advertisers, affiliate and networks are serving your ads.
Create Insightful Reports: Build comprehensive reports that transform data into actionable insights and marketing intelligence.
By following these steps you will be able to determine the campaign’s success and have a full set of data that can be used to explain the results. The real success will come when you are able to leverage insights gained from this data to inform decisions for future campaigns.
Where do we go from here?
When it comes to digital agencies in the age of digital advertising, priorities need to be focused on staying up to date with the latest trends and technology, having the ability to act in real-time, employing tools to collect relevant industry data and drawing actionable insights from this data. In doing so, agencies will not only be able to survive the digital future but also make their brands thrive and stand out among competition.
We can show you how WhatRunsWhere can change the way your brand advertises online. Stop wasting your time, Get Started Today!