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In 1994, audiences were blessed (or cursed?) with the very first banner ad at hotwired.com. Those first forays into digital advertising were clunky at best, and I remember my father solemnly warning me to never, ever click one because “It could be a virus.”

the first banner ad

[Screenshot taken from thefirstbannerad.com]

These days, sponsored content on social media is one of the major ways I find out what’s in style and what’s on sale. Just today I’ve clicked on ads for comfy looking pajamas and a fun two-piece set I thought would be perfect for a June wedding I’m attending. Both were completely out of my price range, but it’s also a bit flattering that Instagram thinks I’m rich.

As brands increasingly gain the ability to buy and sell ads in real time via programmatic, serving ads to target audiences has never been easier. Yet all-too-often, a brand’s martech hasn’t quite caught up with its adtech.

And many times, customers are clicking on ads only to be pretty disappointed by generic homepages featuring messaging that has nothing to do with where they are in their buyer journey. Here’s how focusing on the customer experience also means making the most of your programmatic ad spend.

Content produced in collaboration with Ve Global.

Why focus on customer experience?

In the early days of digital advertising, the customer journey was pretty straightforward: a person was served an ad, and if they clicked, they would go on to either make a purchase or walk away.

But today, with so many new channels and myriad ways to check in with customers throughout every point in their journey, the customer experience matters more than ever before. Ensuring that customers are being served relevant experiences at every touchpoint in their journey is critical for helping customers to see your brand’s value.

All too often, we accept it as a given that customers hate ads. And that may have been true back in the days when digital advertising meant an annoying, spammy banner flashing at the top of a slow-loading web page.

But these days, most customers have come to rely on advertising as a critical part of their buyer’s journey, whether they realize it or not.

According to eConsultancy, 46% of consumers don’t mind advertising as long as it’s relevant.

And when customers can’t recall the content of ads they’ve seen, 55% say it’s because the ad simply wasn’t relevant.

It turns out consumers tend to think they’re getting a poorer customer experience than what marketers think they’re delivering.

brands' ability to deliver an excellent customer experience according to marketers vs consumers in US and UK 2019

[Graph from eMarketer]

In the survey above, 48% of US marketers believed brands deliver excellent customer experiences — while only 22% of US consumers agreed.

The right ad at just the right time can make the difference between welcoming a new customer and wasting precious ad spend.

The five shopping modes: Understanding them could be your path to better communication

Looking at the steps customers take on their paths to purchase is a critical part of understanding what messaging is right for which customer.

Accepted marketing wisdom tells us that there are five main shopping modes:

  • Browser
  • Researcher
  • Product-focused
  • Bargain hunter
  • One-time shopper

But these modes aren’t static. Customers often switch back and forth between modes.

For example, the return of Game of Thrones has me dying to make a huge, traditional savory pie for the finale. I’m wondering if I should splurge on the $80 springform pan or go with a cheaper, $10 Amazon version.

Usually I’d be pretty unlikely to splurge on a big cookware purchase. But I’ll bet I could be persuaded just this once with the right messaging. Say, however, I’m served an ad for 20% off select cookware and click on the ad to find that only Dutch ovens are on sale. I’m unlikely to say “Oh what the heck, I’ll go with a Dutch oven rather than a springform pan.” I’m much more likely to walk away.

By understanding the five stages that exist within a typical online journey, as well as the behaviors and motivations associated with audiences in each stage, marketers can deliver advertising that extends past the first touchpoint. Instead, it can incorporate different campaign methods to achieve the desired outcome at different stages in the journey.

Unfortunately, too many marketers see programmatic advertising as a one-size-fits-all solution instead of serving ads specifically tailored to each buyer at each stage in their journey.

What causes high bounce rates for paid ads?

Most paid advertising has a pretty dismal bounce rate.

According to Lunarlogic, the average bounce rate for paid ads is somewhere between 41%-55%.

With as much as half of any given brand’s hard-earned paid traffic currently leaving a website before engaging, we are facing an industry-wide problem of wasted advertising spend and underperformance, with the cause lying beyond programmatic advertising alone.

Here are four of the most common reasons audiences bounce:

  • Lack of focus on what happens after an ad is clicked or viewed
  • Generic homepages which lack any form of personalization
  • Low recall rate and lack of targeting for ads that were viewed, but not clicked
  • Disconnect with the rest of the customer journey

The common factor in each of these is the lack of connection between advertising and the channels through which that advertising takes the customer.

If I click on an ad for my coveted springform tin and am then shuffled to some generic website full of baking supplies that have nothing to do with my search, the brand has basically extended an invitation for me to spend my money somewhere else.

Connecting adtech and martech is the best way forward

Adopting marketing technology that works with programmatic ads in order to create a cohesive, personalized, and relevant experience is the only way to be sure customers are being met at the correct stage in their path to purchase.

They need to be served information that adds value to their brand experience, rather than simply burdening it.

To learn more about how to connect your martech and adtech for a seamless customer experience, check out Ve Global’s white paper, “Beyond programmatic advertising: How customer experience is shaping the landscape in 2019.”

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