Sit down, Sopranos. Back up, The Bachelor. Get lost, Game of Thrones! The latest season of TV upfronts might be more dramatic than all three of you combined.
OK, we’re exaggerating...but only slightly. The real-world story has progressed so quickly and taken so many twists and turns that it’s felt like one of those shows you kind of have to read the recaps for. Assuming that’s why you’re here, we'll get right to it:
Let’s start with one of the biggest stories of the moment: On May 2, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) went on strike to pressure the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to provide a fairer contract, citing “business practices [that] have slashed [their] compensation and residuals and undermined [their] working conditions.”
At the same time, there’s massive churn happening across the industry in terms of personnel. From major layoffs at Disney, to Don Lemon’s exit from CNN and Tucker Carlson’s exit from Fox, to NBCU’s loss of its CEO and its Chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships (who’s gone on to become Twitter’s new CEO) shortly before the upfronts, many linear and streaming giants are experiencing some major upheaval. As to how these changes will impact their advertising businesses, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty—both in the short and long term.
Then there's the convergence we’re seeing in the historically fragmented landscape of streaming TV, with the introduction of Max, which has combined the content libraries of HBO Max and Discovery+, and reports of Comcast planning to sell its stake in Hulu to Disney in 2024 as the House of Mouse plans to fold Hulu’s library of content into Disney+ to create its own mega-app later this year.
While digital video represented about half of ad spending in last year’s upfronts, that share has grown to roughly two-thirds this year, with linear’s YoY share decreasing significantly as advertisers move their dollars over to digital.
So yeah, just a few small things for advertisers to keep track of.
To help you make sense of it all, we called in two of our experts, Susan Mandell, VP of Brand Development, and Paul Morrone, Integrated Client Solutions Director. Below, they explore all the biggest questions on advertisers’ minds and provide recommendations for how to weather the wild, wild west of convergent TV in 2023.
Paul Morrone: The first domino to fall was late night TV. Programs like “The Tonight Show,” “SNL,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” are already running reruns instead of new episodes. The second domino to fall, if the strike continues until mid-June or so, will be a delay in production for new seasons and new content starting in the fall.
Susan Mandell: We’re seeing a lot of volatility with the actual people who create the content—and not just the writers. With the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Directors Guild preparing to negotiate their contracts as well, we don't know what's going to happen. Will it be a united front among the unions? So far, they’ve stuck together and shown more unity than back in 2007-2008. But Fran Drescher (President of SAG-AFTRA, whose contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expires on June 30) is talking about very different issues than the Writers Guild, and for the studios to address all of them, it's going to be challenging.
If it does come to a point where there isn’t anything new coming out, people will be going back to CTV channels and their giant mass of content to find something that they haven’t watched before.
SM: In this moment, if you're advertising on those late-night TV programs that are unexpectedly showing reruns, you're likely not going to get the consumers you thought you were, because they’re moving their eyeballs to content that's new to them—whether that’s a show they haven't watched before, a new streaming program, or a new podcast. In many instances, they're not finding that new content in linear right now.
The question becomes, how do marketers pivot their current or traditional marketing plans in an effort to really be in front of the right people? If you want to be in front of the right people on video, you can certainly do that on social channels like TikTok, Meta, YouTube. But there's also the CTV angle, where you can really connect to a specific audience that you weren't able to with linear. For example, you can use an audience segment of people who have done X, Y and Z, or who fall into a certain demographic, and reach them specifically where they’re viewing their content.
This is a really interesting moment for advertisers to think more about personalization and who their consumers are, who their target consumers are, what consumers drive the lowest customer acquisition rate and the highest lifetime value. How do you target those consumers to generate new revenue streams or new subscribers or whatever you may be selling? If you're thinking about how to maximize your dollars without wasting impressions on the wrong people, gearing it towards digital—think social and CTV—makes sense right now as eyeballs move away from linear to find new content.
SM: When you think about linear, the guarantee you have is that time slot, right? You can see your ad and know that it checks all the boxes, but outside of that, there's little that you're able to do from a targeting perspective, outside the show.
In digital environments, there are more opportunities to get consumers to interact—and for advertisers to see and track those interactions—than we’ve ever had in linear. On YouTube TV, for example, consumers can click to get more information on each ad as it pops up.
Typically, CTV ads that work really well are those with QR codes or those that have immediate calls to action. And this is an interesting moment where people tend to have their phones or devices in their hands while they’re watching TV, so they're already ready to interact.
PM: One of the things that I find really interesting about this moment is that it shows how quickly a lot of things can change in this space. Constant change is going to be the new normal. We've seen an abundance of streaming platforms trying to go to market, convergence of content with Max and likely Disney, and that tumult is going to continue because not everyone's going to be able to survive.
Agility, the ability to react quickly, is critical right now. I’d almost recommend embracing something like a sense of adventure—a test and learn approach is really key.
SM: You’ve got to be flexible, and the digital space affords a lot more flexibility than we’ve ever had in linear. In this space, you can move dollars from a display campaign to a video campaign with three clicks of a button. For marketers to be agile and have their dollars flow in and out of mediums depending on what’s working and where people are, being in the digital space or the CTV space is really the best way to meet your consumers where they are.
Not to say that linear isn’t one of the strongest mediums out there—it absolutely is. But there are alternatives now that give marketers more flexibility to reach the right consumers without the price tag or the volatility that we’re seeing in linear.
Phew! This might be one of those seasons you want to watch a second time, just to make sure you catch it all. To recap the recap, here’s what advertisers should know:
In light of the writer’s strike and larger audience trends, advertisers may want to consider moving some of their linear dollars over to digital video to capture audience attention on the channels where consumers are spending time. And with major changes seeming to happen more and more at the broadcast and streaming giants, digital offers advertisers the agility necessary to act swiftly in reaction to whatever plot twists come down the line.
Luckily, there’s one thing that’s certain: TV is one drama that won’t get cancelled anytime soon.
If you’re ready to lean into connected TV, but want more information on how to do it right, check out our connected TV advertising guide for the latest data, trends, and best practices.
Can you feel it? The sun beaming down, inviting you outside? Can you smell that sweet, sweet aroma of hamburgers on the grill? We’re talking paper plates, plastic cups, slices of watermelon, a cooler full of drinks, potato salad that’s been sitting out in the sun for far too long, and maybe even a game of corn hole. Yes, we’ve officially entered one of the best times of the year: It’s cookout season!
The social ecosystem of a cookout is both sophisticated and delicate, not unlike the media mix of a winning marketing campaign. And when summer comes around, we’re sure that like us, you’ve no doubt started to wonder: What kind of person would each digital advertising channel be at a cookout? What characteristics would they have, and how would they contribute to the social fabric of these important events? Well, don’t worry, we’ve had some extensive debates and thought it all through (and, of course, done some very thorough cookout-related research), and we’re here to share our findings:
They might have gone to an Ivy League school, but they really didn’t need to. They’ve been a wiz their whole life, able to figure out any kind of technology in minutes. Programmatic isn't just the smartest person in the room—they’re also a trend-setter who gets along with literally everybody, helping them to achieve their goals faster and more effectively like it’s their job.
Connected TV hasn't always been popular, but they’ve always been cool. That said, they’ve really come into their own over these past few years, and their rising popularity doesn't show any signs of stopping. CTV (as friends call them) is a fantastic storyteller, keeping even the most skeptical cookout guest entertained and engaged. Sure, they can be a bit messy (read: fragmented) and hard to figure out (read: measure), but that just adds to their mystique. The important thing is, you’re definitely going to want to spend some time with them.
You know that one friend who pops up at every social event, and you have no idea how they find the time or energy? That's Connected TV's older sibling, Video. Their versatility allows them to get along with pretty much anyone. This is just one of many cookouts they’ll attend this week, making the rounds and engaging folks like the charismatic extrovert they are at each one. They've been in these circles for a while now and have proven their reliability time and time again. Plus, they’re always evolving—these days, they’re into shorter discussions, but Video’s a skilled conversationalist with mid- and long-form chats as well.
Audio’s been around for a long time—in fact, they might be over 100, but they certainly don’t look it! They’ve always had that special ability to capture your attention completely, no matter what else is going on in your life. In the past couple of decades, they’ve reinvented themselves as a digital trendsetter, leveraging technology to become even more irresistible to the folks they want to connect with. As a result, everyone seems to be spending more and more time with Audio.
Ah yes, it’s just not a party without good old Display. One of the founders of this particular friend group, they’re a tried-and-tested comrade, invited to every social gathering and able to get along with anyone. These days, they’re often found hanging out with Video, but Display is also great friends with Social and Mobile.
How does Mobile do it? They're intimately acquainted with what feels like a million (slash seven billions) people, and folks say they couldn't live without them. Can't find a way to get your point across to someone? Just ask Mobile—not only do they have a vast network, but they know everyone in that network extremely well, giving them the ability to communicate with language that feels tailored and targeted. How do they know so much about all their friends? Well, yes, they may have been less-than-sensitive with peoples’ private information in the past, but they’ve made some pretty significant strides there in recent years. Just get them chatting with Contextual and Geotargeting, and privacy won’t be an issue.
You know that person at the party who no one can take their eyes off of? At this cookout, it’s Digital Out-Of-Home (DOOH for short). They're an incredibly creative and versatile dresser, rivalling Mobile in their ability to grab anyone’s attention. At the same time, there's something reassuringly old-school about them—probably because they inherited many of the same traits as their mom, Out-Of-Home (who’s graciously letting their kid do most of the socializing these days). Oh, and you didn’t hear this from us, but while they may not be public yet, we hear that DOOH and Programmatic have been cozying up quite a lot lately, and word is they’d make a great power couple...
Good ol’ dependable Search has proven their worth time and time again. And while they've recently entered a transformative time in their life, they haven't let those personal developments take away from the value they provide the friend group. These days, you'll probably find them talking about the diversification of their work, or their new interest in artificial intelligence. Though they'll likely look a lot different in a few years, it’s almost certain to be more of a glow-up than a midlife crisis.
Everyone loves the Social family, from the undeniably influential Meta, to the mature and career-driven LinkedIn, to the youthful and endlessly creative TikTok (who totally gets why you might be coming up with contingency plans based on their recent legal troubles, but is thriving nonetheless). You’ll often find them hanging out with Video, using their incredibly effective communication skills to connect with giant networks of people.
The only thing about this group is that it keeps growing, and its members are constantly evolving, so it feels like you could spend the entire cookout trying to catch up with each one. Also, they’ve been known to spread a false rumor or two, so keep your eyes peeled for misinformation when you’re hanging out. And hey, last thing: Be nice and go chat up Twitter—they've lost a lot of friends lately.
Well, there you have it: Each channel brings something unique to the digital advertising cookout. More important, though, is the cumulative effect of all these channels coming together to create an engaging and enjoyable event. One channel on its own is a bit sad, like a paper plate filled with just hot dogs instead of the full scope of cookout deliciousness. That’s why cross-channel experiences, and the omnichannel advertising platforms that empower them, are so important to digital marketing success.
So go ahead: Load up your plate with everything digital advertising has to offer, and enjoy a summer full of top-tier cookouts!
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What’s the weirdest museum you’ve ever been to? If you haven’t visited the National Mustard Museum in my home state of Wisconsin, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out. It’s got everything: An exhibit on the history of mustard, the “exquisite Gibbons Collection of sterling silver and porcelain mustard pots,” and thousands of varieties to try and buy—from root beer mustard to Pear mostarda to gingerbread Dijon.
While quirky destinations like these are fun for townies and tourists alike, creative marketers can also benefit from understanding the significance of such local attractions—especially in today’s industry, which is slowly but surely transitioning toward more privacy-friendly methods of serving tailored messages to consumers.
Unconvinced that America’s Favorite Condiment Museum has anything at all to do with winning marketing strategies in a cookieless world? Stick with me here and let’s take a look.
Like the Greeks and Romans prescribing mustard to cure the bubonic plague, geo-based targeting can serve as a balm for marketing organizations transitioning away from third-party cookies (except that localized marketing actually works...no offense to our Hellenic ancestors!)
How, exactly? Despite Google delaying third-party cookie loss to 2024, the fact remains that our industry is in the midst of an identifier crisis. News coverage of data breaches and data privacy regulation, combined with updates to iOS and Android that have increased the transparency of mobile data collection, have levelled up consumers’ understanding of how companies collect and use their data. As a result, consumers (understandably!) want more control over how companies gather and leverage their personal information and online behavior. To accommodate consumers and regulators alike, the marketing world is on the brink of a tectonic shift away from a targeting world that revolves around the third-party cookie.
In their place, marketers must lean into other targeting methods. Contextual and geo-based targeting, for example, are both not only tried-and-tested, but often more cost-efficient than user ID-based targeting. We’ve already taken a closer look at contextual targeting, so let’s examine some of the ways geo-based targeting strategies like location targeting, localized marketing, and geotargeting can help advertisers reach their audiences.
Location targeting might seem basic to some marketers, but it’s hard to understate the power of doing it right. Targeting by country, city, or even zip code presents advertisers with information that’s ripe for personalizing brand messages: language, food, weather, sports teams, music, history, landmarks—the list goes on. This type of targeting presents the opportunity to build custom creative with specific audiences in mind (sometimes referred to as “localized marketing”). Advertisers can use information about different locales to relay brand messages that feel thoughtful and personalized, but not invasive.
For instance, to promote their original series “Wednesday”, Netflix ran localized, place-based advertisements around the world that featured creative geared towards the culture of those markets. Take a look at this billboard from LA, for example:
These localized ads played into a bold, omnichannel advertising strategy from Netflix, in which consumers encountered Wednesday ads everywhere from the TikTok and Uber apps to the trays in airport security lines. Wednesday is now the second-most-viewed English language series on Netflix, thanks in part to their innovative marketing approach.
While the tone of the Wednesday creative matches the personality of the character upon which it’s based, not all location-based ads have to be so cutting. Consider the following examples:
In Toronto, Nike built a brand awareness ad around local transit frustrations.
In Philadelphia, Vitamin Water featured a piece of locally-loved slang to get their message across.
In Chicago, Red Bull made the iconic Chicago Loop the star of a billboard ad.
If you’re from Toronto, Philly, or Chicago, seeing one of these ads may have made you smile—which is exactly what localized media is supposed to do! At its best, a localized ad feels like being seen by a brand—like the two of you are sharing an inside joke—and elicits positive associations that come with knowing that brand spent time and money to connect with you and your people.
Those warm fuzzy feelings are priceless from a marketing perspective, and for that reason, ads with localized creative might be some of the most enjoyable and unobtrusive that consumers can come across. They’re just targeted enough to feel tailored, but not so targeted as to feel creepy (i.e., "How did you know I was just talking to a friend about wanting to visit Dijon next summer, internet??”). And in the modern marketing world, that’s a crucial balance to get right.
Of course, just because we live in a certain zip code doesn’t mean that we spend all our time there, and advertisers can get even more granular in their geotargeting based on consumers’ real-time location data and/or locations that they’ve recently visited. In a privacy-first world, using first-party data is a no brainer here, because consumers generally understand first-party data collection as something that’s meant to streamline their digital experience (like Weather.com remembering your zip code or the Kohl’s app knowing that February in Chicago is sweater weather, not swimsuit season).
Brands can also tap into second- and third-party data to power geotargeting campaigns, but this is where marketers must tread lightly, as the use of that data opens up privacy concerns. This kind of geotargeting uses information like GPS data collected from mobile apps to serve ads to customers when they enter specific geographies. But location data, in the eyes of regulators and consumers, is personal data—and that means marketers must be extremely careful about how they gather, utilize, and store it. Under pieces of legislation like GDPR, CCPA/CPRA, and COPPA, there are rules for how companies can interact with location data. If brands don’t comply, they run the risk of legal consequences and subsequent loss of brand loyalty once the news gets out.
The issue gets even more complicated considering that due to the complexity of the media supply chain, many data providers and brands simply don’t know that they’re violating these regulations. For example, a report from fraud detection platform Pixalate found 70% of the top 1,000 most popular apps directed at kids on the App Store and Google Play share GPS signals or IP addresses with marketers, implicating those marketers in potentially violating COPPA. There are a lot of companies out there that have no idea where their data comes from and they’re using it anyway—don’t be like those companies!
Despite privacy concerns, the location data industry is growing at breakneck speed: 90% of global companies that use location data expect its use to become more important in coming years, and location data is seeing rapid adoption in the retail, CPG, travel, finance, real estate, and logistics industries.
So, how can marketers tap into second- or third-party location data without running the risk of violating consumer trust and data regulations? Here are a few guidelines:
An example of guideline number two in action: Basis is integrated with intelligence and measurement company Cuebiq, which allows Basis marketers to build audience pools based on mobile users’ location behaviors, and measure in-store visitation resulting from ads. Cuebiq prioritizes privacy by always asking users to opt into sharing their location before collecting it, and by providing users with multiple options to opt-out of location sharing at any time. Plus, Cuebiq was one of the first location providers to join the Network Advertising Initiative, a group that maintains and enforces high standards for data collection and use, which is another good sign that they’re serious about privacy.
All in all, geotargeting can be a huge boon for marketers, but with great power comes great responsibility. And failing to uphold your responsibility to consumer privacy can result in catastrophe (kind of like the catastrophic shortage of mustard France is experiencing right now—but that’s a story for another day).
Like people in the market for a house or apartment, the marketers of the future will constantly be thinking about “location, location, location.” It’s hard to overstate the importance of place, and one thing’s for certain: Location targeting, localized marketing, and geotargeting will all be significant players in the digital advertising ecosystem of the future.
Like 9th-century monks in Northern France making bank on mustard, marketers who tap into geo-based targeting (in privacy-friendly ways, of course!) will find themselves very well off, indeed.
Interested in learning more about how to transition away from third-party cookies and into the future of privacy-friendly digital advertising? Check out our guide, Beyond Third-Party Cookies: Your Guide to Overcoming the Identity Crisis.
Marketers, are you tired of hearing the phrase “quickly evolving” yet? From digital advertising regulation to the world of social media, it seems as if every corner of the marketing world is in the midst of a paradigm shift. And, for better or for worse, search is no different.
We’ve got generative artificial intelligence taking center stage, with Bing claiming to have reinvented search with its new chatbot-powered search engine, and Google racing to catch up. We’ve got Gen Z increasingly turning to social platforms to search instead of Google, with the company’s own studies finding that almost 40% of young people are using TikTok or Instagram to find a place for lunch instead of Google Maps or Search. And, of course, there’s the looming loss of third-party cookies in Chrome, which will change how search marketers are able to optimize and measure their campaigns.
It’s a lot for any marketer to digest and understand! To help untangle it all, we asked three of Basis Technologies’ top search marketing experts—Lindsay Martin (Group VP, Search Media Investment), Robert Kurtz (Group VP, Search Media Solutions), and Amy Rumpler (SVP, Search and Social Media Services)—for their thoughts on what paid search advertisers should know about the present, and how to prepare for the future.
Lindsay Martin: We’ve talked about the potential evolution into voice search and/or conversational search for years. For whatever reason, we haven’t seen a takeoff in those areas, even though we are surrounded by devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home displays. In many ways, ChatGPT is the next stage of this evolution, as the search engines were already focused on creating more personalized experiences for users.
In the paid space, from a marketer perspective, ChatGPT may bring efficiencies with things such as writing ad copy or optimized content creation to drive quality scores. It’s already proven that we can combine human touch with AI for performance marketing with format changes such as Responsive Search Ads and Performance Max. We’re keeping our eye on a couple of key things:
Robert Kurtz: It’s important to note that AI-powered tools are already being used in SEM to automate tasks, improve accuracy, and generate insights that were previously impossible to obtain. Businesses that want to prepare for the future of SEM should:
Amy Rumpler: I expect paid search to continue to focus on bringing more personalization to results; capturing more intent through alternative, engaging content formats such as visual search and video; and driving better performance through the continued development of advertising automation. Helping customers find the information they need fast, while maximizing opportunities for brands to show up well and convert, is the end goal.
Brands should absolutely be testing and adopting newer ad formats (like Performance Max) and investing in video on platforms like YouTube in addition to traditional text search campaigns, as these are both easy opportunities to take advantage of newer trends in paid search. Incorporating your own first-party data is another great way to ensure ads can be personalized to audiences beyond what’s based on their search queries. And, when combined with other features like Smart Bidding or Value-Based Tracking, first-party data can be a powerful way to optimize performance.
Lindsay Martin: Video ad formats with more creative messaging opportunities are certainly driving higher engagement. YouTube ads, in particular, are driving higher search volume. YouTube offers a “search lift” measurement, which provides measurable impact of direct lift on increases of both paid and organic search volume as a result of exposure to video campaigns. However, if brands are not present in paid search results after creating interest via TikTok and YouTube, that's a missed opportunity for a final touchpoint to drive conversion.
Amy Rumpler: Where consumers go to search for options, content, and recommendations has definitely diversified, with a number of platforms and retail networks eating up attention. As a result, many marketers are taking a fresh look at their media mix to ensure it’s diversified enough to capture consumers’ interest wherever they’re spending their time. That said, even when a customer’s journey doesn’t start on Google, paid search often benefits from this extra exposure, as it’s often still the final touchpoint for customers before they finalize a purchase or decision. As a result, search spend is widely predicted to continue growing over the next few years.
Marketers can prepare by thinking more holistically about the entire customer journey, and by adapting their paid search content and measurement strategies to ensure they're able to capitalize on intent signals that originate from other platforms. One great example of how to do this: Closely tracking growth in related keywords and incorporating trending topics in your paid search campaigns.
Cannabis advertising can be tricky. The drug is still prohibited on a federal level, which makes crafting a holistic, nationwide advertising strategy particularly difficult. To make matters even trickier, each state, marketing channel, and publisher carries its own set of ad regulations for cannabis marketers to navigate.
At the same time, the cannabis market is growing like a weed (sorry—we couldn’t resist!) The US cannabis market size is expected to reach $40 billion by 2030, showing a forecasted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.2% from 2023 to 2030.
Many cannabis brands tend to lean on organic marketing methods like social media and SEO to attract their audience. While organic messaging is an important part of any marketing mix, paid media is just as critical. Here are our top five considerations for effective cannabis advertising that any cannabis brand can use to help build their paid advertising strategy:
This one is fairly critical: Spend time researching and following the cannabis marketing-related laws that exist in the markets where you want to advertise. While each state carries its own set of regulations, there are a few rules that hold true across the board. General guidelines to consider include:
Like state cannabis marketing regulations, each marketing channel (and each publisher and vendor within that channel) has its own approach to cannabis. For example, in the world of paid social, Twitter recently became the first social platform to allow cannabis ads in those states where it’s legal.
While the Federal Communications Commission does not allow cannabis advertisements to be aired on linear TV or radio, advertisers can run their ads via connected TV or digital audio. With either mainstream programmatic exchanges or cannabis-specific programmatic exchanges, these channels allow advertisers to target compliant audiences with their ads.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Because of this, CBD has less restrictions federally. Creating ads that are focused only on your CBD products can help you drive traffic to your site without having to worry about some of the restrictions that come with traditional cannabis advertising.
Programmatic advertising can help bridge the gap between cannabis-focused publications and more mainstream publications. Many brands choose to run ads in publications centered around cannabis, such as High Times or Cannabis Culture, but those publications only represent one subset of cannabis consumers. Programmatic targeting can help ensure your advertisements are compliant with local regulations, while effectively locating cannabis consumers across the web.
In the current climate for cannabis dispensary marketing, there are thousands of brands competing for the same consumers. While location typically whittles down a lot of the competition, it is important for cannabis brands to focus on what sets their brand apart and makes them unique.
One idea: Test out content that focuses on your company’s culture or values, with no mention of cannabis or cannabis products. Native advertising (such as sponsored content) can be an effective avenue for this strategy, which can also help you steer clear of local regulations.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cannabis advertising, these five considerations will be highly useful for cannabis brands looking to maximize their paid digital media strategies.
Looking to learn even more about cannabis advertising—from opportune consumer personas to campaign best practices? Check out our guide, Cannabis Marketing in the Roaring 2020s, for a deep dive.
As a B2B or B2C marketer, you probably have a lot of thoughts when election season comes around and political marketing campaigns are in full swing. You can’t ignore the increases in certain CPMs while planning out your own campaigns, but you definitely appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted, well-timed ad or campaign.
While it may not be obvious on the surface—or when you watch a particularly cringeworthy political ad—there’s actually a lot that B2B and B2C marketers can learn from their political counterparts. And in many ways, the specific pressures political agencies deal with force them to make strategic decisions that, in ways, would prove valuable to marketers in all fields.
Don’t believe us? We’re ready to prove it: Read on for three critical insights that B2B and B2C marketers can take from the world of political advertising:
Over the past few years, the Great Resignation and high rates of burnout in digital advertising have put a spotlight on employee retention. While many leaders have focused on important lessons around taking care of your employees and leading through turbulence, the political marketing world can offer some unique insights on how to build a great team.
For example, when a group of marketers come together to support a candidate or cause, there’s a certain level of built-in ideological alignment. In many ways, it’s kind of a no brainer: A marketer who leans left is less likely to join a team running a campaign for a conservative candidate.
Outside of the political arena, marketers increasingly want to work for brands they feel ideologically aligned with (just as consumers want to buy from brands whose values match their own). This kind of cohesion not only benefits the employee, but the employer as well: When your team is on the same page about the fundamentals, there’s an innate level of trust which in turn enables the flow and creativity that fuel winning campaigns. And this alignment does not have to be political—values like diversity, ambition, and work-life balance are often powerful indicators of a good fit between a marketer or consumer and an agency or brand.
Additionally, speed and agility are especially critical in the political campaign cycle, so choosing employees who have the ability and willingness to turn on a dime is key. Speaking of which…
Political campaign cycles are inherently turbulent. Marketers in these spaces must be reactive to what’s going on in the world and adjust their messaging based on factors like economic and political developments, campaigns run by opposing candidates, commitments formed by new sources of funding, and a whole lot more.
Even the weather is significant, as fewer people will turn out to the polls on a snowy or rainy Election Day. Marketers must consider how to adjust their messaging based on all of the unpredictable events going on around them and be able to make those adjustments as swiftly as possible. For perspective, many political clients adjust their budgets every single Monday to account for how the landscape changed over the weekend.
While B2B and B2C marketers typically have a bit more breathing room, the growing complexity of digital media makes agility a critical part of campaign success. Even more, consumers care about brand values, and younger demographics like Gen Z are more than willing to call out inauthenticity. In the face of controversy, B2B and B2C marketers must have the ability to move fast and make adjustments on the fly.
Who makes up the audience that political marketers want to reach? Simple: anyone who’s eligible to vote, right? While that's technically true, political marketers would be much less effective if that’s how they approached their work. The population of eligible voters is made up of many smaller groups defined by different behaviors, beliefs, and backgrounds, each of which create specific opportunities for messaging.
Beyond basic demographics, political marketers group audiences based on questions like, “Have they voted in the past?” “How often have they voted?” and “Is there any record of their political ideology?” Marketers then slice and dice that data in order to customize messaging to specific target audiences.
Political marketers also focus their efforts on a group called the “persuadable middle,” made up of voters who fall in between hardline conservatives and liberals. In product and service marketing, these individuals might be called “brand switchers.” There’s a huge opportunity to sway people who fall into this category, which political marketers often approach via education.
The takeaway? It pays to invest time in the process of deeply understanding the many groups that make up your audience. The more you can find out about past, current, and prospective customers, the more effectively you’ll be able to spend your budget on personalized messaging that’s tailored to reach specific groups.
See? Political marketing isn’t so different from B2B or B2C after all. By incorporating these insights about building the best team possible, prioritizing agility, and leaning into hyper-personalization, product and service marketers are sure to gain a significant competitive edge.
And these insights are just the beginning—there's a whole lot more that B2B and B2C marketers can glean from the world of political campaigns. Check out our webinar, Beyond the Ballot Box: Using Political Advertising Strategies to Connect with Consumers, to hear firsthand from political advertising experts on Basis’ Candidates + Causes team.
86% of US consumers are concerned about data privacy, with a full 3 in 10 unwilling to share their personal data for any reason. Data privacy and security is such a hot topic, it’s at the heart of efforts to regulate—if not outright ban—TikTok: US and state governments alike fear that the platform, which has been under US scrutiny for nearly three years due to its ownership by a China-based company, “may put sensitive user data, like location information, into the hands of the Chinese government.”
As a result of widespread consumer disapproval of targeting tools such as third-party cookies—not to mention government privacy regulations and changing policies from tech giants like Apple and Google—advertisers must find new ways to market relevant content to willing audience segments.
To that end, here are five things marketers should keep in mind as we move toward a privacy-first future:
Creating a cookieless new normal isn’t going to happen overnight—it’s a marathon, not a race. And a “one-size-fits-all” solution is unlikely to address each marketer’s unique concerns, from media placement options to audience targeting to conversion tracking. Easy, quick alternatives are not the way to go.
As Basis Technologies’ VP of Media Innovations & Technology, Noor Naseer, wrote in a recent blog post:
“Though it might be tempting to wait around for someone to come up with [a one size-fits-all third-party cookie replacement], those who choose progress over procrastination when exploring privacy-friendly solutions will come out on top.”
The key here is to test a variety of solutions to evaluate what mix of available alternatives will work for you. Which leads us to our next two points…
Marketers can leverage targeting options like contextual, semantic, and machine learning without worrying about consumer privacy concerns. Geo-based targeting is another option that’s often privacy-friendly, as is buying via PMPs, which won’t be affected by cookie deprecation.
P.S. For more about contextual targeting—how it works, why it’s privacy-friendly, and the many benefits it offers—check out Why Contextual Targeting is Having a Moment in Digital Advertising.
Whether you’re a publisher or a marketer, collecting and leveraging first-party data from consumers will be key moving forward. Since users give this information freely, it’s privacy-compliant. Plus, personalization and targeting efforts fueled by first-party data are more likely to resonate and yield positive campaign results.
If you have access to email addresses, phone numbers, or any other consented data from your consumer base, you can layer that data into other types of targeting to differentiate audience groups. This can be done by creating targetable audience segments within a CRM, creating lookalike audiences, or layering first-party data with contextual targeting for highly relevant reach.
In addition to exploring options like contextual and making the most of their first-party data, marketers should stay informed on how heavy hitters in the ad industry are developing identity solutions that are both high-performing and privacy compliant. There’s the International Advertising Bureau’s Project Rearc with its encrypted identifiers and consumer controls, for example, or LiveRamp’s RampID and its ability to resolve hundreds of identifiers into one unique ID.
The bottom line? The industry is innovating quickly to account for the loss of third-party cookies, and it’s important that marketers are aware of all the options.
The customer-centricity of a clearly crafted data usage policy won’t go unnoticed: That earlier study about privacy concerns also highlights that “76% of survey respondents say they want more transparency around how their personal data is being used by companies, and 40% say they would willingly share their personal data if they knew exactly how it would be used.” However, a McKinsey study showed that “only around 33 percent of Americans believe that companies are using their personal data responsibly.”
So, while ensuring data security through the right partnerships and infrastructure is necessary, and leveraging opted-in data and privacy-first media is a smart use of your available tools, your consumers’ trust is the leg that keeps the rest of the stool standing. The more integrity with which you use their data, the sturdier your overall relationship will be—before, during, and after your campaigns.
Being aware of, empathetic to, and responsible with consumers’ data privacy concerns is only becoming more critical—to brand/customer relationships, to marketing campaign success, and to a business’ bottom line. Marketers who plan now for ethical data collection, governance, and deployment will be well positioned to avoid a huge mess when the cookie finally crumbles.
Looking for more insights into the changing landscape of consumer privacy? Check out Beyond Third-Party Cookies: Your Guide to Overcoming the Identity Crisis.
“It was love at third sight...”
“I want to be the third to thank you for...”
“Third impressions are everything...”
Third is...okay. But first? First is what we strive for—from the Olympics to the weekly trivia night at your local dive bar. Why should sourcing consumer data be any different?
Since the invention of the cookie in 1994, digital advertisers have grown dependent on third-party cookies for techniques like audience targeting, retargeting, geo-based retargeting, cross-device targeting and tracking, frequency capping, and attribution. But third-party cookies are on their way out, with regulators, consumers, and tech providers alike pushing for advertising methods that prioritize consumer privacy.
And yes, Google may have delayed third-party cookie deprecation in Chrome until the second half of 2024. But regulators and consumer behavior have made it crystal clear that businesses need to prioritize consumer privacy now: 2022 has been a landmark year for data privacy-focused regulation, and regulators are cracking down like never before: just ask Sephora, BNSF Railway Co., or TikTok. With 86% of US consumers saying that data privacy is a growing concern for them, it’s of critical importance for advertisers not to procrastinate on incorporating alternative targeting tactics into their marketing strategies.
While brands and agencies will need to adopt a mix of solutions to move beyond third-party cookies, first-party data will undeniably be one of the main players helping advertisers ensure they are showing messages to the right people, in the right places, at the right times. Below, we’ll outline a few examples of how advertisers can squeeze every last drop of value out of their first-party data. But first, let’s take a look at what makes first-party data a winner in a world that prioritizes consumer privacy:
First things first: the fact that users freely give their first-party data to brands is perhaps its biggest strength. As consumers have become more digitally savvy, they’ve come to demand transparency into how their personal data is used by the businesses with which they interact. This is particularly true of younger generations like millennials and Gen Z: 91% of Gen Z, for example, feel that being able to find out which companies are storing their personal data is a basic human right.
In order to build trusted relationships with these consumers, brands need to be able to provide that information in an accurate and organized way. While the chain of middlemen involved in third-party data collection and storage makes this difficult, it's easier to communicate information about personalization and targeting efforts powered by first-party data (so long as your data house is in order, of course). When it comes to transparency and privacy, first-party data will always come in first.
With almost 90% of consumers likely to enjoy personalized offers, personalization is quickly becoming a key differentiator for brands. And in contrast to third-party data, which is aggregated from a variety of different sources and consequently suffers from low reliability and accuracy, first-party data is highly accurate because it comes directly from users. That means that personalization and targeting efforts fueled by first-party data are more likely to resonate. And from a quality perspective, first-party data can’t be beat: each data point comes with the promise of someone who has demonstrated a clear interest in your brand’s offerings.
Even more, quality personalization efforts can encourage consumers to share even more of their information directly with brands: in one survey from Merkle, 90% of respondents expressed willingness to share more personal information after having a positive experience with a brand. Talk about a positive feedback loop!
Despite its clear benefits, one of the main concerns advertisers have when it comes to first-party data is scalability. While the proliferation of providers makes it easy for advertisers to acquire just about all the third-party consumer data as they are willing to pay for, first-party data is not quite as effortless to gather. That means it's important for advertisers to find ways to amplify the first-party data they do have access to.
To that end, let’s explore a few of the ways advertisers can use solutions like automation and strategic partnerships to boost their first-party data:
If you’re going to leverage your first-party data, you’ve first got to have first-party data. That means investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, which collects and stores information about customers and prospects, from email addresses and phone numbers to information about all your interactions with a certain individual. Think of a CRM as a hub for first-party data, and a reference for making future interactions with customers and prospects as personalized as possible.
The question now becomes how to actually leverage that data to create targetable audiences. After all, the people whose information you store in your CRM will have already expressed interest in your product or brand and consented to your use of their information, so having those addressable segments is likely to be highly effective (and valuable).
Many marketers target their CRM data by investing in a platform or vendor that’s separate from their advertising platform. They send their CRM data to the vendor, the vendor processes the data and sends it back to the adtech platform the marketer is using, and the platform then re-processes the data and provides targetable segments to the advertiser. But because there are so many steps and parties involved in this process, it often takes hours or even several days before advertisers can use those audiences to target.
Of course, many marketers will want (or even need) to use their first-party data more quickly. For example, airlines that collect first-party data when potential customers begin the checkout process need the ability to retarget users who abandon their carts before purchasing a ticket. Airline brands know that users are not likely to wait a week or more before deciding which flight and airline to go with, so waiting several days to receive targetable audience segments from a separate CRM platform could result in missed opportunities and lost revenue. And though it’s easy enough to retarget these groups today by using third-party cookies, that won’t be the case for much longer.
For those marketers who want or need to access and use their data more quickly, it makes sense to use a platform with built-in integrations that allow direct uploading of CRM data to streamline the process. By uploading CRM data directly into a platform, advertisers can access targetable audiences within hours instead of days. They’ll also enjoy the benefit of having a single source of support, which means one less platform to learn and one less vendor to include in billing systems and to account for when planning campaign budgets.
Just because someone tells you their name, email address, and location doesn’t mean you have a good understanding of who they really are. Likewise, just because you’ve collected some first-party data from your consumer base doesn’t mean you understand how to continue building strong relationships with them. For this reason, audience profiling is one of the most important ways advertisers can leverage first-party data.
Via strategic data partnerships and advertising automation, marketers can use first-party data as a starting point to create detailed user profiles informed by consumer demographics, interests, and buying behavior. Advertisers can then create more personalized marketing strategies based on these profiles. How does it work? We’ll use Basis’ integration with TransUnion Audience Platform (TAP) as an example here:
TAP’s audience pool, created from data points sourced from a combination of public, private, self-reported, and modeled data, covers 99% of the US population. When advertisers upload their first-party data into Basis, the platform can match that information to TAP’s vast data pool of consumers. Machine learning technology can then enhance that first-party data with more data points across categories like demographic, financial, automotive, employment, political, and purchases and interests. The result? In-depth consumer profiles that marketers can use to target and inform personalized messaging.
While audience profiling helps marketers better understand their current and past consumers, look-a-like modeling can help them tap into new audience pools. And while marketers can also leverage third- or second-party data for look-a-like modeling efforts, first-party data will provide the most accurate results. Let’s use Basis’ integration with TAP again as an example:
Once TAP has created those robust audience profiles with a brand’s first-party data, machine learning technology can identify other TAP-identified audiences that are similar to those consumer profiles. This addresses the concern of first-party scalability by creating large-scale audiences out of a smaller amount of first-party data. All marketers have to do is provide a seed audience via their CRM—or place a TAP pixel on their site, which will collect its own first-party data—and TAP’s machine learning technology can amplify it with additional audience pools.
Another powerful way to leverage your first-party data is to use it in tandem with contextual. Contextual targeting is having a moment, thanks to the fact that it’s especially privacy compliant, serving ads based on the content of digital environments instead of user IDs.
And while contextual is an effective strategy on its own, coupling it with first-party data can create an even more personalized consumer experience. How does it work? Let’s use Basis’ partnership with Peer39 as an example:
To leverage first-party contextual targeting in Basis, a brand can opt-in to automatically deliver campaign data like impressions, clicks, conversions, and media cost by URL to Peer39. Peer39 then analyzes the brand’s media distribution and performance across contextual signals, pulling insights about where audiences are spending time and consuming content. Based on those insights, Basis creates customized contextual targeting categories that are optimized to reach target audiences. By creating new categories with which to target, this technique expands the impact of a brand’s first-party data.
While privacy-compliant advertising hasn’t become the status quo quite yet, that's the direction our industry is hurtling towards. Come the loss of third-party cookies in Chrome, it will be critical to have robust methods in place for making the most of your first-party data—but marketers who start testing those methods now will gain a significant competitive advantage. Let the procrastinators come in third: early adopters are going for gold.
First-party data isn’t the only tool advertisers need in their privacy toolkit. Check out Basis’ suite of privacy-friendly advertising solutions to see how we're giving our users a well-rounded set of solutions for privacy in digital advertising.
One of the biggest global annual advertising experiences is right around the corner! South by Southwest (SXSW) is certain to be packed full of fascinating conversations and critical insights for digital marketers. If you’re planning your trip and feeling overwhelmed by the long list of events and offerings, this should help: We’ve picked out seven panels and presentations that you won’t want to miss. With topics spanning from data privacy, to activism and equity, to the turbulent world of social, you’ll level up your marketing prowess by attending just a few of these.
Without further ado, here are our favorites:
It only makes sense to kick things off with a topic that's on the minds of advertisers everywhere—and one that it’s critical for marketers to get ahead of. Not only will 2023 see a new crop of state-level data privacy laws take hold (hello CPRA), but a majority of advertisers are still highly dependent on third-party cookies. And with Google set to deprecate cookies in its Chrome browser next year, many advertisers are wondering how to forge ahead. In this presentation, Basis Technologies’ own Noor Naseer will break down what advertisers need to know, and detail how they can prepare for a privacy-centric future.
Advertising? In this economy? While some brands may choose to cut marketing budgets during economic upheaval, those same brands may (ironically) end up spending more when the economy recovers as they try to regain market share. As such, it’s up to marketers to communicate the value of maintaining share of voice, even during turbulent times, to decision-makers. In this presentation, agency veteran Nancy Hill will share strategies for marketers looking to defend their budgets.
Brands are at an interesting turning point when it comes to taking a stand on social issues. While “checking the box” may have been somewhat acceptable in the 2010s, consumers have now grown weary of brand inauthenticity. Gen Z, in particular, has a fine-tuned radar for detecting BS and are more than happy to call it out on social media when they see it. Here, social justice organizers working both within and outside of agencies will discuss how brands can go beyond traditional corporate responsibility.
Digital advertising has a CO2 problem. This session will cover why advertisers should care about their impact on the environment, and demonstrate how they can significantly reduce their carbon emissions each year without upending the reach or efficiency of their advertising. Of course, advertisers can’t solve the climate crisis on their own—and this presentation will touch on how the advertising system will need to change as well. Real talk: We'd attend this presentation solely because it’s led by the inventor of the ad exchange, Brian O’Kelley, but we’re also curious to hear about his solutions to one of the biggest problems facing advertisers (and, you know, humanity).
Despite the diversity, equity, and inclusion work that many brands have prioritized in recent years, the industry has yet to achieve equal pay. This panel will specifically explore the pay gap between white and BIPOC influencers, which currently sits at a shameful 29%. Panel experts will not only explore the factors perpetuating this pay gap and ideas for how the advertising industry can close it, but also other DEI issues such as algorithmic bias and tokenism in influencer marketing.
TikTok really is changing everything: from the music industry, to how Gen Z searches online, to the marketing funnel. Consumers are no longer consistently moving from the top of the funnel to the bottom, but are instead shifting in and out of the funnel more fluidly. In this presentation, TikTok’s Rachael Ryan and Material’s Jeff Stone will explore how the platform has changed the marketing paradigm and offer tips for how marketers can adjust their strategies accordingly.
It’s been a turbulent couple of years for social media. The very nature of the channel makes it rife for brand safety concerns, not to mention additional considerations that have cropped up lately around specific platforms (ahem, Twitter). This panel will explore how advertisers can actually lean into that risk to create a presence that stands out. It sounds...risky, we know! But don’t worry, the presenters also plan to cover how brands should react when a calculated risk has unsavory consequences.
Fascinating stuff, right? Happy learning—and please do stop by “Will Data Privacy Kill Advertising?” on March 13th, hosted by Basis Technologies’ very own industry veteran and thought leader, Noor Naseer, and say hello!