Why the R-word need not result in doom and gloom

Rachel FoskettThe word that seems to be on every business executive’s lips as we start 2023 is “recession”. It’s one that can strike fear into the heart of marketers since it conjures up images of budget cuts and resource freezes.

Major macro factors like inflation, labour shortages and geo-political blockers are deleteriously impacting consumer behaviour and spending in markets worldwide. But the future need not be all doom and gloom for marketers.

Before making any knee-jerk reaction and cutting marketing spend outright, savvy CMOs and agency executives are thinking about how to adjust their strategy and ensure desired outcomes are met to drive continued growth. It all comes down to data and partnerships and what you do with both that matters.

For a start, justifying marketing spend is simply not possible without an effective measurement and optimisation framework in place. With cookies about to be scrapped, it’s important to use 2023 for testing future-proofed options in a risk-free way, so that you can head into the cookieless future with certainty. A renewed focus on attention data is the ideal option for going beyond measuring viewability to achieve richer insights.

Brand goals are still important during a recession – arguably more important, since consumers want to spend their precious money with brands they trust. But it can be the hardest part of the marketing budget to justify when brand building takes place over a longer time period.

By incorporating robust leading indicators of brand favourability, like uplift in attention or brand recall, you can be sure your spending is still on the right track.

With consumer attention shifting rapidly across channels, thinking carefully about your omnichannel approach can help make the most of your marketing spend. While a mass-reach linear TV campaign may be out of your budget range, the good news is that data-driven, targeted TV – that is still brand safe don’t forget – is now easy to access. In 2022, at MiQ we’ve seen a 105% increase in spending on CTV with excellent results in driving measurable outcomes.

Brand safety issues, however, continue to pervade social media and frequency is through the roof, which is the last thing you want when trying to build consumer trust. In our recent report, Unboxing the Global Retail Consumer, we saw that 7 in 10 consumers are taking a more considered, less click-happy approach to purchasing. This may justify a reduced social media spend in 2023, which could be better allocated to those CTV ads.

Another idea is to use dynamic analytics to find your ideal audience and reduce waste. In volatile times, using static consumer profiles based on just demography or geography will no longer be effective in reaching the right audience. When advertising strategies need to transition at pace away from third-party cookies, judicious use of first-party data can help find new audiences with similar attributes to your paying customers.

The most important consideration in creating your measurement framework is to ensure you can benchmark what ‘good’ looks like. This is only possible with a truly agnostic view of the market. Beware, some vendors with a limited dataset may end up skewing your results.

That speaks to the fact that no marketing team can go it completely alone. Having a partner who can help with data science expertise in augmenting your data with a wide range of additional third-party data such as geo-contextual, bidstream, supply-path and macro data can help you with a more strategic approach that will optimise your budget.

You can also rationalise the vendors you work with. The martech and adtech landscapes are brimming with possible partnerships and it’s likely that a brand or agency team has a complex stack of them. Cost consolidation, rather than cost-cutting, can be an effective first step to cut some of the fat without impacting your marketing outcomes.

Great technology is one thing – but it will never replace proper service levels that you can rely on. Think about what talent gaps you have within your organisation and seek a partnership that can help supplement those.

In the end, all you want is to ensure you can reach your marketing goals in an efficient way. By working with partners who can help you identify your ideal outcome and use data to achieve it with a channel and platform-agnostic approach, you can reduce the risk, protect your brand and your budget in the meanest of times.

Rachel Foskett is vice-president of global product marketing at MiQ Digital

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