Digital advertising is facing increased scrutiny as consumers, marketers, and the media begin to tire with its many flaws. Despite the medium’s growth, some believe that it is failing on the fundamental principle it exists – to engage relevant individuals who are receptive to the given brand’s product or service.
Google and Facebook control around 60% of digital advertising. Despite their foothold in the market they both suffer from surprisingly off-target issues within the areas of budgeting, targeting and the customer journey.
Expressly co-founder and ex-McKinsey consultant Fabrizio Fantini explains that “Facebook and Google’s bidding systems are designed so that, if the relevant search keywords are popular, you’ll need to raise your bid for your ad to be presented to users. This is a hidden cost for businesses. Users don’t actively seek to buy through Facebook, and the journey from a ‘Google ad’ to ‘checkout’ can be very indirect. Therefore, mainstream ad platforms have become expensive for what they offer.”
Some brands faced with using these mediums do run successful campaigns, but they face a heavy use of time and resources, altering and refining the campaign as it progresses. This is not so simple for many SMEs as paid media tracking and automation tools are expensive, so it can be extremely difficult to track the progress and any problems during a live campaign.
“Our research discovered that almost a fifth of advertisers have difficulty seeing a link between their digital advertising efforts and sales” Fantini adds. “A long checkout process, for example, can discourage purchases after an ad is clicked. If you want to optimise results, the full customer journey can only really be analysed with premium CRM software. A steep learning curve often necessitates hiring specialists, which are yet another burden on budgets for SMEs.”
The issue with the total lack of control afforded to brands was recently highlighted in a disturbing finding by the media. Google’s algorithm for placing adverts was leading to brands featuring on pro Islamic State videos on YouTube. The finding was so shocking that even the general public became tacitly aware that something must be awry with the current mechanisms of digital advertising.
Expressly co-founder Andrea Tricoli advises that businesses “redirect their digital marketing budget toward solutions where they can fully control the placement of their campaigns. To the general public, ads are seemingly random and untargeted. The approach used by mainstream networks can be a risk to any brand’s reputation.” Few consumers would state that the adverts they see online are relevant to them, which is an additional frustration to a group which realistically would rather see no adverts at all. Digital advertising is here to stay, so the challenge lies in making adverts as relevant as possible to the individual consumer’s needs or wants. So what can be done?
“We thought about these pain points and, in the end, developed our own twist on performance advertising”. Through Expressly, eCommerce stores can offer their customers additional affinity-based actions from relevant, non-competing partner advertisers. “Users are more likely to be interested and are already in buying mode” Tricoli adds. Advertisers can choose the appropriate contexts for the actions, and have full control on where they advertise. In addition, customers can buy the products with 1-click, thus have an Amazon-like experience, but between any eCommerce stores.
“Digital ads are still the best way for SMEs to advertise today” says Tricoli. “Improvements need to be made across the industry but, if the right approach is taken, advertisers can seize every sales opportunity regardless of budget.”