The premise of programmatic is a simple one. And for those of us in the customer engagement space, it’s a bit of a dream come true. Take the right messages and deliver them at the right time to the right people.
That’s right up our street. No more missed opportunities, no more mistakes. Less of ‘those shoes I bought three weeks ago are still following me around online’, and more ‘how about this polish, specially for Italian leather, to go with them?’
Agencies in our industry live and die by their ability to target customers in the most personalised and relevant ways. It’s not just something we want to do – because being more targeted helps us get the right message out to the right people and will yield the ROI that we and our clients are aiming for – it’s also something we need to do.
Because with the rise in ad blockers and on-demand viewing, power is well and truly in our customers’ hands. Opting out of our communications has never been easier. And, so for us, relevance has never been more important.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Programmatic is still at a frustrating stage. Right now, its potential far outstrips its reality. For all of the things we might be able to do, there are countless things we still aren’t doing. And not necessarily because the tech isn’t there, but more often because our understanding isn’t.
In its current state, the majority of programmatic targeting offers a scattergun approach. Not ideal when we’re looking for precision targeting and accuracy. But there are things we can do as creatives to make sure that the conversation around programmatic develops in the right way.
We can take lessons from what’s tried and tested. From what we know works.
In our case, that’s classic direct mail. To make the most of programmatic, we need to be thinking of it as the next generation of customer engagement – as the successor to our traditional mailers.
For those of us who remember when the classic direct mail brief landed on a regular basis, this might feel like a bit of a blast from the past. The outer, the letter, the brochure, and ideally, the physical object. How all the elements combined to tell one coherent story.
When done right, programmatic layers the message. It serves it to people over a period of time and across different channels to tell one engaging story. Just as the outer used to intrigue, the letter and brochure would explain, and the physical object would surprise and delight.
Therein lies the success of classic direct marketing, and hopefully, the future of successful programmatic. At its heart – a bloody smart creative idea, played out in different messages across different formats to different audiences. Lots of personalised content, all stemming from one tightly knit idea.
Richard Worrow and Ross Newton are creative directors at Partners Andrews Aldridge
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