As marketers, we are faced with balancing a seemingly infinite number of digital advertising options with finite resources (budget, personnel, skills, technology). Choreographing delivery of our message to clients when, where and how they want it often feels less like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and more like a group of second graders performing a tap recital. In other words, a white hot mess.

The CMO Club’s Sandra Zoratti sat down with a group of top marketers at our recent Innovation & Inspiration Summit in Los Angeles to find out how they’re mastering the art of digital advertising – and some missteps they’ve made along the way.

SocialCode_Panelists Picture
L to R: Kieran Hannon (Belkin), Sarah Snyder (SocialCode), Eric Reynolds (Clorox), Lee Applbaum (Patron) & Sandra Zoratti (CMO Club)

Sarah Snyder, VP of Strategic Partnerships at SocialCode, kicked off the conversation with three key findings from research recently conducted among CMO Club members:

  1. A high percentage of CMOs from larger B2C brand do NOT test creative and audience combinations in their digital advertising to:
    1. Identify new customer segments (61% do not do this)
    2. Impact better ad deployment in TV, print and radio (66% do not use digital testing)
  2. Many CMOs are outsourcing management of their CRM database to agencies and other 3rd parties, BUT almost 60% of CMOs surveyed plan on managing their database internally in the future.
  3. Most CMOs are NOT using digital advertising to better understand the audiences within their CRM databases.

Overall, what we’re seeing are missed opportunities to better understand customer insights that could be game-changers for marketers. But some marketers understand these opportunities are being missed and are well on their way to making changes.

Here are some ways that our panelists are approaching and leveraging digital advertising differently than a year ago:

Keep it simple – very, very simple.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” Leonardo da Vinci

Patron Spirits International has spent the last year honing their segmentation strategy. In fact, Patron CMO Lee Applbaum says that they learned through social listening that hyper-segmentation was unnecessary. Instead, they segment consumers into just two groups: The Bros and The Knows.

The Bros are primarily looking to kick back and have a good time with their friends with some high quality, great tasting tequila. They like the “swagger” of the Patron brand and value its aspirational halo. The Knows are members of the garden-to-glass movement who are interested in the story behind the spirit. They want to understand the product inside and out – from the origin of the agave to the design of the bottle. Lee says that they have found tremendous success by customizing their digital strategies to target just these two groups.

Quality over quantity

“Time itself comes in drops.” William James

Kieran Hannon of Belkin is also scaling back on the shotgun approach to digital advertising in favor of more targeted ads places with premium publishers. While much of Belkin’s digital budget used to be dedicated to programmatic ad buying, Hannon now feels that there are too many unknowns associated with that strategy: location of ad placement, who is seeing them, etc. He would rather create custom ads for sites that they know their customers are frequenting like this spot they did for Hulu, touting their new Max-Stream MU-MIMO Router with promises of no more spinning buffering wheel (hey, I’d buy that!):

[youtube id=”7buQgrUlpZU”]

The Road Less Traveled

“The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” James Crook

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has traditionally been slow to adopt digital as part of their marketing strategy, preferring traditional channels like TV instead. Eric Reynolds, CMO of Clorox said his company is the exception to this rule. In fact, he recently told the Wall Street Journal that Clorox will spend 40% of their annual advertising budget on digital this year, with particular emphasis on programmatic ad buying.

Like Mr. Hannon, Mr. Reynolds understands the issues around ad fraud and transparency associated with programmatic. However, he said that he has built a dedicated in-house technology team who is managing the program to ensure that they are tapping into the enormous value potential of this tactic.

“Digital requires channel mastery, an understanding of ‘what is the journey?’, ‘what aperture is right for the right message?’ AND a richer, deeper meaning of how we tell brand stories,” said Reynolds.

While we still face tremendous obstacles when it comes to digital advertising and segmentation, we’ve learned from these industry trailblazers that testing and nimble execution just might be the keys to success.