Posts

Salesforce Study Shows Rising Customer Expectations

This is the year that control of the advertising industry has once and for all passed to the customer. Events from the last year like the launch of more personal digital assistants and the passage of GDPR have altered the industry forever, raising expectations and changing corporate norms. Back in the “Mad Men” era, it was common to tell consumers what they wanted. From now on, consumers are going to tell US. Consumers know we have their data, and now they’re demanding something in return — a more individualized buying experience.

The big elephants in the advertising room are artificial intelligence and the changing expectations of the connected consumer. Salesforce’s 2018 State of the Customer Experience points to exponentially rising customer expectations.

Tethered to their smartphones and accustomed to nonstop innovation, today’s consumers and business buyers are more informed and less loyal than their predecessors. In this era of exponentially disruptive technological change, often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, products and services that are cutting-edge one day are outdated the next. In this context, the experience a company offers is increasingly its differentiator. But the scope of customer experience is changing, too. To win hearts and wallets, companies must not only deliver amazing marketing, sales, ecommerce, and service interactions, but also prove that they have the customers’ best interests in mind.”

In other words, you have no room to let customers down. And you have to continually show them they can trust you or they won’t buy from you.95% of consumers say they only buy from companies they trust. This is going to be a big challenge for, say, the automotive industry, whose  new car dealership model is going to have to change from the old haggling with the finance director experience. Horsepower and beauty are no longer the selling points they once were.  Instead, sandwiches in the waiting room while your car is being serviced and a salesperson who will likely deliver a car directly to you like Tesla and Carvana do will be the norm.

And they want companies to know who they are as individuals. It’s almost as if customers were saying, “look I know you have my data, so why don’t you use it to engage with me as an individual rather than as a demographic segment.” 86% of customers are more likely to trust companies with their information if the company explains how that information is used to make a better customer experience.

Here’s something that surprised us: customers are no longer afraid of new technologies, Instead, 56% of them want to buy from the most innovative companies.

Even in B2B sales, buyers would like an Amazon-like experience. In fact, B2B sales are increasingly becoming “consumerized.”  However, only 27% of business buyers say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall experience, signaling ample room for improvement.  Business to business selling will have to change.

 

 

SwipeUp is a Window into the New ZEDO

Our new SwipeUp mobile web format has begun to roll out in test campaigns. The ZINC team is selling it, and the ads are running on our premium publisher network.  It’s pretty ingenious, and because its so innovative it generates more than the usual engagement from mobile phone readers. When a user opens a web page that runs this ad, the ad tag loads on first touch. When the advertiser tag response is received, or after an interval that can be determined, 20% of the ad swipes up from the bottom of the page. The ad moves up or down on the next swipe, and the user can either engage with the ad or swipe out of it. Most significant, the user is always in control; the ad never “takes over” the page. (SwipeUp does, however, expand to fill the screen.)

These attributes have become very important as the industry tries to restore the trust of the consumer after the Wild West of desktop display advertising, which alienated such a large portion of the population, especially the all-important Millennials, that a fair number of them have opted to block ads entirely, especially on mobile.

Now the industry can keep investing in more and more sophisticated technology to block the blockers, but that would ultimately be self-defeating, because the users will just begin to despise all of us, advertisers and publishers. It’s much better to do what we’ve been trying to do: separate ourselves from fraudulent traffic, beef up our security, and be the change we want to see in the industry.

Although that has meant a re-alignment in our customer base on the publisher side, we can now be certain that there aren’t any more adult sites in our network, nor any malware on our platform. We are moving to a completely premium network. Many other industry partners have done the same, being proactive to stop the erosion of trust that peaked last year.

On the ZINC side, our Innovation Suite, led by our inArticle video format, and accompanied by inView, is landing us better and better campaigns, and we’re up over 300% year over year in revenue. We’re being used by every agency trading desk, and many major brands.

We’re building a trust network for the supply side to reach the demand side, and for the demand side to get greater ROI on its campaigns. It’s a pretty exciting time for us, almost like a rebirth into a different position in the industry. It will take a while for people to grasp how much we have evolved, but expect some further innovation from us this year.

 

 

 

All Ad Tech isn’t Evil

Ad tech is getting blamed for everything that is wrong with digital media today. And when the pundits speak of “ad tech,” they are lumping in everything from ad servers to RTB platforms to DMPs (Data Management Platforms) to SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) to retargeters to data trackers. But as usual, these generalizations throw out the baby with the bath water.

We also don’t like what consumers mean by “ad tech,” — programs that distribute malware, gather personal information and sell it, or slow down web sites with trackers.

But we think there’s a difference between tracking, which consumers think of as a violation of privacy, and giving useful information.

For example, we are an ad server. As an ad server, we don’t track anything, we simply receive information from advertisers and publishers and serve an ad. We’re a back end technology that isn’t sexy and doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy. That’s how we started.

We also have a private platform. A private platform, too, doesn’t track any personal information. It simply allows an advertiser to buy our high impact formats and be sure they’re going to our premium publisher network without any extraneous influence on the supply chain. If everyone did what we did, consumers wouldn’t be turning on ad blockers.

But they are, and that’s why we spend time with the Online Trust Association, listening to its members speak about what we have to do to preserve advertising as a way to keep content free. Ironically, even the people who make ad blocker software know that advertising won’t go away, and content should continue to be free.

How do we make this happen? Both advertisers and publishers need to learn more about their customers. That involves actually serving them once they are acquired, and talking to them to find out what they truly want to see.

For example, I’m looking for a new car. I no longer buy cars based on horsepower, or even gas mileage, and heaven forbid looks. I buy them for consumer safety technology, which involves movement in the direction of autonomous driving. I also buy them for their in-car media platforms: how much and what kind of software does this car have to help me be productive even in a traffic jam?

But most car salesmen can’t talk about those features in a new car, and most ads don’t feature them. Instead, the ads feature sleek bodies and voiceovers about speed.

When advertisers begin to make ads that actually make consumers familiar with the characteristics of a product that the consumer would actually use, advertising will be helpful again, and consumers won’t be tempted to block it. That’s why there’s such a movement toward native advertising.

But there are two kinds of native ads: one is native to the format of the digital publisher, and means the ad looks like whatever else the consumer is receiving in his or her stream. Promoted Tweets fall into this category. The other is native to the content of the publisher, and means the ad contains information that might be helpful to a consumer making a decision.

Both of these “native” concepts are most suited for brand advertising, and less for direct response. And isn’t that the way advertising was intended? As a way to offer consumers valuable information about products they might want, in a location where they already are?

Let’s go back to that future, and consumers will turn off the ad blockers.