Simplify Your Online Marketing

By Jonathan Gardner, recently featured on

Technology makes the magical possible, but it’s also making marketing complicated. With ad exchanges, hyper-local targeting, and endless mobile options, it’s easy to get tangled up in an alphabet soup of advertising technology. Just one look at Terence Kawaja’s ad-tech landscape induces tears of empathy for over-marketed-to marketers. Basically, the time for simplification is here.

Simplicity is what consumers want, what marketers need, and what standard-bearers such as Apple andGoogle have shown as the way forward.

Here are three rules that brands can follow to simplify their marketing for everyone involved.

1. Put Consumers in the Driver’s Seat

Let’s move away from strategies and metrics that aren’t really relevant for branding. Brands always look for some kind of number and stat to justify their online spend — CTR, view-through, attribution, “likes.” Does that make sense at all? Did brands worry about measuring the impact of a full-page spread in Vogue back in the day? The issue is over thinking the numbers and not thinking enough about advertising in the interest of consumers.

Give people choice, control, and relevance in their experience. Don’t put a roadblock between anyone and the story, images, or video they want to see. Create intriguing, value-add experiences that are relevant to the page, that make users want to click, view, and engage. Make it user-initiated and easy to start and stop engagement. Instead of real-time bidding (RTB), how about trying real-time relevance?

2. Get in the Content

We’ve seen a recent surge in attention for the “native ad,” sponsored content, and branded-content meme. But it’s really nothing new. Ever watch soap operas on TV? Those started out as radio broadcasts that were literally created by consumer packaged goods companies. Since the dawn of digital time, we’ve known that the traditional ad concept had to change and that brands needed to move into the content-creation business and get their content seen.

But what if your stellar campaign assets are part of the one-third of display advertising that, according tocomScore, goes unseen due to banner blindness? Even if you have awesome, entertaining, useful branded content like Red Bull or Unilever, you still need to surface it. How will your brand’s content be discovered by consumers who have literally zillions of content channels to choose from?

Focus your attention where consumer attention is focused: in the edit well online, on mobile, and on the tablet. Surface your content through advertising technology that gets you in the words and images where a relevant, immersive brand advertisement or content experience will really make an impression with consumers.

3. Simplify Your Strategy

Instead of doing one thing on mobile, another on tablets, and something else on desktop, consider puttingmobile at the center of the design process, then refining and customizing everything from there.

Brands can now respond directly to how consumers interact with all kinds of devices. In an era where we swipe, expand, and share an ad or useful brand content, it isn’t enough to rely on the same old creative approach. Brands need to leverage their great assets with amazing creative executions in high-impact, exciting ways that are native to devices, contexts, and formats.

So let’s leave the purchase funnels behind, and stick with these three simple rules. Chances are people will thank you with ever-coveted, ever-elusive, real engagement.

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