Study: Marketers say they put their customers first, but they aren't really doing it

Industry professionals understand the need in taking a consumer-first approach to marketing, but many still fail to adopt that practice. According to a MediaMath study done in partnership with Econsultancy, 91% of marketers recognise the importance of putting customer first in all their marketing efforts, but 51% of them do not fully do so.

Lewis Rothkopf, MediaMath’s GM of Media and Growth Channels, said that this is because marketers in many cases still struggle to define what "omnichannel" means. While there’s a general recognition that consumers have changed and that they need to be addressed appropriately, sequentially, throughout the purchase funnel, it is sometimes challenging to determine the right mix of channels to accomplish that goal.

"Additionally, existing tools for omnichannel execution can be challenging to use, and sometimes don’t offer the ability to address all required consumer touchpoints," he said. He added that the solution starts with integrated technology through which marketers can activate audiences across all channels seamlessly in addition to optimising campaigns from one place, targeting, managing creative and understanding campaign effectiveness.

"Marketers must also ensure they are taking an audience-first approach to media, instead of making assumptions about specific supply by source or channel," he said. The failure to adopt a consumer-centric, omnichannel approach can cause a range of problems which can compromise the consumer experience and undermine advertising effectiveness, said the study which interviewed over 400 respondents globally. For example, meaningful measurement and attribution of marketing impact across channels is virtually impossible without an omnichannel approach.

The study also found that seven in 10 organisations that do not take an omnichannel approach to its advertising, lack the ability to accurately attribute its online advertising spend to offline channels.

Increase in digital

Despite the results, respondents show great rigour in wanting to reach the right type of customer with the right advertising in real time is a "requirement". About 67% of respondents ranked the ability to dynamically segment audiences as one of the top three choices for desired capabilities for companies over the next five years. As such, it is no surprise that respondents have said that digital advertising continues to play a vital role in businesses. Brands have cited a need to increase their investments with digital marketing as they seeking greater efficiency.

While advertisers give similar weight to the importance of customer acquisition (56%), brand awareness (54%) and revenue growth (54%), agencies and technology providers lean very much towards the fundamental commercial necessities of increased revenues (79%) and new customers (73%) as the overriding considerations.

Reflecting its vital contribution to business, the digital advertising sector continues to grow at a fast pace. In the US alone, online advertising spending reached US$88 billion last year, a 21% increase from 2016 and a new high, according to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report. This research shows that the main objective for advertisers is increased advertising efficiency, with well over half (59%) of advertisers and around three-quarters (76%) of agencies and technology providers citing this as a top-three priority (Figure 2).

It is this quest for greater efficiency that has fueled the growth of programmatic advertising, with automated trading and algorithm-driven targeting of ad units reducing wastage and increasing return on ad spend.

Marketing technologies are insufficiently integrated

An estimated 63% of advertisers, and an overwhelming 96% of agencies and technology providers, said in the study that advertising and marketing technologies are insufficiently integrated and advertisers are "held back" due to this. More than nine in 10 (92%) advertisers agree that integrated technology and data allow for "seamless and effective" advertising, but this level of integration is a reality for only a minority of responding companies.

“This report shows that we have a significant opportunity to unite our entire industry around new technological standards, commit to ever-increasing transparency and control and respect consumers’ privacy, while striving to consistently delight and inform them,” Dan Rosenberg, chief marketing and strategy officer, MediaMath said.

“We must acknowledge as fact that marketing must deliver for all members of the ecosystem,” he added.

Meanwhile, MediaMath's Rothkopf added that there is a general recognition that consumers have changed and they need to be addressed appropriately.

"[This is] sequentially, throughout the purchase funnel, but it is sometimes challenging to determine the right mix of channels to accomplish that goal, and existing tools for omnichannel execution can be challenging to use, and sometimes don’t offer the ability to address all required consumer touchpoints,” Rothkopf explained. He added that the solution starts with integrated technology as marketers are able to activate audiences across all channels. Marketers will be also able to optimise campaigns from one place, do targeting, manage creative and understand campaign effectiveness.

The survey was responded by 446 executives from advertising, agency and technology background. The online global survey saw respondents from Southeast Asia, Australia, US, and UK, among others.