With all the developments in the marketing industry, there’s a lot of excitement to look forward to this year and in the coming years. However, the same developments also pose a number of challenges and issues that marketers will have to deal with if they are to successfully navigate the increasingly challenging landscape.
The past year has seen a great number of innovations in the way products and services are marketed in the digital realm. Technology and the changing preferences of consumers play a big part in the changes that are continuously affecting the marketing industry. Marketers need to have a good grip on these two factors to ensure that their digital campaigns will bring in their desired results in revenues, brand recall, and customer patronage and loyalty.
Marketers have to face challenges by taking a look at both internal and external factors. They have to match their internal digital marketing capabilities and talents to the new technologies that are emerging in the industries they are operating in. They also have to ensure that their digital campaigns are responsive to the needs and demands of their target market. It is also important for them to exhaust existing value sources and tap various new digital channels to grow their customer base.
Critical Digital Marketing Issues
More specifically, here are some of the most critical challenges that digital marketers will have to pay close attention to in 2017:
- Global Competition – the infinite reach of the internet has also made it a giant playground for digital marketers from all over the world. No longer are marketers limited by geographical locations. They are free to tap markets as they desire for as long as they can provide what their customers need and want.
More and more companies are fighting for their target markets’ share of mind and pocket. Technology has also made it possible for companies to be more creative in their campaigns. Digital marketers need to know what their competitors are doing and quickly come up with their own campaigns that are designed to get ahead of the game. They have to make sure that their customers do not get that “been there, done that” feeling as they are exposed to their digital marketing campaigns.
In the face of such fierce competition, digital marketers will have to be quick on their toes to draw up and initiate campaigns that will capture their target market’s attention and elicit their desired response sooner than their competitors can say “I can do that too!” The key for digital marketers is to be nimble in the highly competitive and fast paced developments in their ecosystems in the digital world.
One solution that famed management consultant has always presented is to “create the future” rather than to simply predict the future. The way for digital marketers to get ahead is to do what has never been done before. This, of course, comes from first knowing what has already been done by other market players. Market intelligence has to be stronger than ever if digital marketers are to be nimble in the face of global competition.
- Ad Fraud – as marketers and advertisers are becoming more innovative in the use of digital channels, the incidences of fraud in these channels have likewise seen a significant uptrend. These issues are costing the industry a huge amount of money as well. The US has reported over $7 billion in losses when it comes to advertising spending. CNBC.com cited a $16.4 billion global ad spend loss as reported in an agency study.
Among the major ad fraud issues that digital marketers should pay attention to are:
- Click fraud and bot traffic – this is one of the biggest concerns for digital marketers and its impact is felt throughout the various stages of the campaign implementation, starting from problematic buys right down to the CPA buys. Fraudsters are getting more and more creative and aggressive in their tactics.
Losses mostly from in-app schemes that make use of bots and that simulate human behavior like clicks and keystrokes. A MoPub report has revealed how such schemes are pulled off by fraudsters.
Mobile apps from these fraudsters are downloaded into the devices of consumers. As programmed, these apps run tens of thousands of ads in the background without the consumer knowing about it. The numbers are reported as views and digital marketers are duped with high figures from an invalid traffic of bots simulating human behavior.
- Fake news – yet again, this is a global issue faced by digital marketers all over the world. This issue raises concerns about brand association with inaccurate content and an untrustworthy source. In terms of activity, the digital marketer also suffers from high bounce rates that give them low in-view rates and a shorter time within which to capture their target market’s attention.
This is a tricky issue to deal with, yet one that is easier to manage than other ad fraud issues. Digital marketers will simply have to be more discerning about the ad spots they buy to ensure that they are not doing business with publishers that promote fake news and hate speech. They face more risks when they buy inventory in bulk and leave the decision on where the ads will appear to their publishers and agencies. Vigilance and real-time monitoring are critical in preventing this type of ad fraud.
- Attribution fraud – with this type of ad fraud, organic conversions are stolen and passed off as legitimate clicks to the advertiser’s platform. Not much attention has been devoted to investigating and quashing this type of fraud after it was publicized when eBay lost millions in 2013 when it was scammed by an affiliate. This lack of attention is most likely the reason why attribution manipulation still persists.
Needless to say, digital marketers throw away good money when they fall prey to attribution fraud. Perhaps it’s time to start moving towards strategies that are less vulnerable and are more reliable when it comes to bringing in real results.
Preventing ad fraud requires more sophisticated tracking and monitoring tools that advertisers and digital marketers can use in real-time. KPIs will have to be examined more carefully to determine whether or not they are truly getting what they are paying their publishers and agencies to deliver. More transparency in the media supply chain, more reliable measures, and stricter industry compliance standards are also necessary.
- Massive Data – there’s just too much data on the internet than digital marketers know how to handle. While data collection can be considered as a strong point, with about 92% of digital marketers mining the net for customer information, a lot of marketers are stumped as to what to do with the information they have. Putting a plan together and taking action on the data still remain to be at a snail’s pace.
Data analysis is a matter that needs immediate attention if the digital marketers are to take leaps and bounds in 2017. Technology and internal capabilities are critical in this issue. More automated tools are now available in the market to help digital marketers make sense of the data they harvest from the net. Internal capabilities in terms of marketing talent and skills will also have to be beefed up. The results of data analysis should drive more effective digital campaigns that are more responsive to the target market’s needs.
Available data and knowledge should be transformed into valuable customer insight. It should lead to a better understanding of the customers and a predicting what they need, how they will make their purchase decisions, and where they are most likely to make a purchase. Aside from simply mapping their customers’ online journeys, digital marketers will have to get more “intimate” and identify “emotional milestones” that they can factor into their strategic plans.
Another issue that involves customer data that’s not fully tapped is location-based data. Mark Connon, chief mobile officer of AOL, stresses the importance of understanding the customers’ location and proximity patters so that digital marketers can deliver direct ad experiences that are more relevant. Accurate location data allows digital marketers to engage their customers on a more personal level.
- Omni-Channels – customer contact points are right in the forefront these days. With digital channels, companies are expected to be omni present. They have to be present wherever and whenever their customers are looking for them. It’s not anymore just about having an interactive website that customers can visit and a bricks and mortars store where customers can walk in and experience the products and services. Companies have to make themselves available in just about every channel their consumers need them to be in.
Channels where there should be customer touchpoints should be identified and examined. Aside from the “aesthetics,” digital marketers have to make sure that these channels are functional. There should also be links among these channels so customers can quickly switch from one to the other as they desire. The experience in these channels should be uniform in a sense that the customer will not feel a disconnect when they move to another interface.
- Platforms and Software – with the sea of platforms and software for various digital marketing tasks, it could be difficult for marketers choose which one would best fit their organization. Each company would have a different set of needs and a different target market. Even with competing companies, the decision on which platforms and software to use could differ.
What companies need are platforms and software that are easy to use and understand. What use will these technological tools be if the company’s marketing personnel cannot make heads or tails of it? Aside from ease of use, the software also has to give the information that marketers need to make the right decisions and the come up with the most effective strategies. With tools that are easy to use and relevant, adoption will be faster and ROI will be realized sooner.
One other issue that is raised by marketers is the way that they need to make use of several platforms for their various needs. This has an impact on how strategies and plans are implemented on the ground. Interconnections between platforms or perhaps even integration would be beneficial to digital marketers.
Change and Challenges as Constants
The marketing world, just like anything else in this world, will always be beset with challenges. It would be best for digital marketers to think of change and challenges as constants. This means that they have to always stay a step or two ahead so they do not get left behind by competition and by their market.
It is easy for customers today to move to where they can get better deals, have a more satisfying experience, and reap more benefits. These should always be on top of every digital marketer’s mind as he faces the many challenges he is presented with. Ultimately, his decisions, plans, and strategies will have to be shaped by what will make his customers happy enough to keep on doing business with the company and to even bring in new customers.
The digital marketing industry should definitely not waver or back down in the face of these challenges. There are workable and viable solutions that can be used. More serious issues, however, need an aggressive stance and a more concerted effort among industry professionals. Some of these issues cannot be solved by one marketer alone. There are issues that need to be dealt with collectively, while there are challenges that can very well be addressed internally.
Industry organizations are on the right track as they come up with various guidelines and standardized sets of practices that practitioners should adhere to. Compliance to these guidelines will help prevent fraud and will allow the sharing of best practices and knowledge. While marketing is an industry that requires companies to hold on dearly to their trade secrets to get ahead of competition, it is also an industry that can be vulnerable to various challenges if digital marketers are not united in stance.
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