The word that’s generating a lot of talk in advertising is engagement. Selling a product or a service in today’s digital world requires a massive amount of data and four distinct groups of people to engage buyers. The goal is to reach the right person, at the right time, on the right platform with the right message. But the buyer is a constantly moving target. They go through a journey of sorts. For example, let’s take a person buying a car. Because this is such a major commitment, the buyer first must be convinced she needs or wants a new car. Then they must decide on the type of vehicle. Is it an SUV, a sedan or a sports car? For this illustration, it is an SUV. Is it big or small? Does the driver want luxury or economy? Okay, the buyer has picked an economical class of SUV. Now what brand and at what price? In an ideal scenario, an agency should be able to track where the consumer is at every given point on their journey and deliver an engaging message. And, the message needs to change each time the buyer makes one of the decisions above. If an agency fails to follow the buyer on their journey, it certainly won’t engage them and there is a good chance that it will lose the sale. As the industry gathers more information, this process will become very targeted (maybe at the cost of some privacy). Welcome to the world of Big Data and the four groups involved in the process of engaging buyers.
Journey Analytics: Big Data requires the first group at an agency establish what the most important points in a customer’s “purchase” journey. People who excel at performing these tasks are left brain dominant. They thrive on exploring complex mathematical relationships. They are the human version of IBM’s Watson. Taking few risks, they are unlikely to ever become a songwriter or painter. But they are every bit as important as all of the other groups, because this group determines when and where to most effectively engage a customer at various points in their “purchase” journey.
Media Planners: fall into the second group. They obviously decide where and when to run ads and achieve the greatest efficiency. This task demands a person with a left brain and right brain balance. They have to have seen the ad and know where to place it. This is both a science and an art form. This group takes the refined data supplied by the analytics team and places spots in positions and on platforms that are most likely to engage the potential buyer.
The Creative Team: When the average person thinks of an agency, most think of these right brain thinkers. You know, David Ogilvy, Linda Kaplan Thaler, who created the Aflac duck, and Jerry Della Femina, whose creative work and personal flair inspired “Madmen.” Their job is to engage a potential customer by producing memorable ads and turn that potential buyer into a sale. In television they have 30 seconds to accomplish this feat. On a mobile device there are some people who think it can be done in 2 seconds. It is a controversial point of view. But how much time do you spend noticing one ad of the many on your tablet?
Posting: It is easy to explain what this group does. It is far more difficult to accomplish their goal. These are the people who must determine what worked and what didn’t and, hopefully, why. This group is comprised of watchdogs, making sure that what their agency bought was actually delivered on every single platform.
To some extent all four groups have existed for years. But under the new rules of customer engagement, everyone involved in the process is confronted by more complex tasks. The sheer volume of data is difficult to manage but reveals a lot about you, the buyer. The bottom line is that when you respond to an ad by making a purchase it wasn’t a whim. It was a results of knowing everything one can know about you, including what motivates you to spend your money.