Why Digital Marketers Need Couples Therapy

Digital marketers sound like they've been going to couples counseling lately. 

They want emotional connections, a new survey finds. Emotional connections to digital media. And emotional connections between their marketing and their users. 

Cue the sappy Richard Marx tune, please. 

Millward Brown Digital, which polled 300 digital marketing decision makers at Fortune 5000 companies and US advertising agencies, found that 88 percent of digital marketers would increase ad spend for digital branding if they could make emotional connections with users.

It also found that 81 percent indicated that targeting users based on their emotions, or emotional targeting, would help address the issue of "banner blindness," when users surf past banner ads without acknowledgment.

Millward Brown Digital surveyed digital marketers 25 years and older in April.

Missing Out

CMSWire talked to Ari Brandt, CEO and co-founder of MediaBrix, about the survey results. MediaBrix commissioned the survey.

Brandt told us that ads bought through programmatic methods don’t deliver on brand marketers’ key objectives -- at least not yet.

"Automated delivery methods for audience targeting generally run standard ad types and pre roll video ads that users disdain or ignore," Brandt said. "Plus, online and mobile programmatic methods have generated a list of issues for marketers, including click fraud, bots, viewability, fraudulent traffic and 'banner blindness,' which is defined as when visitors to a website, mobile website or mobile app ignore banner like information or advertising."

According to the Millward Brown Digital survey, 37 percent of digital marketers said that “banner blindness” concerns them most about buying branding ads through programmatic methods.

The findings, Brandt said, also indicate that a large percentage of digital marketers believe that ads purchased through programmatic methods produce negative customer experiences that damage brand loyalty or negate their branding objectives in other ways.

Emotional Emptiness

In addition, digital brand marketers can’t make emotional connections with people through branding ads bought through ad exchanges, DSPs and Agency Trading Desks, Brandt added.

"Why, then, is there so much buzz around programmatic when it can’t yet deliver on marketers’ KPIs? It seems that digital marketers utilizing programmatic ad buying are ignoring the ultimate goal of brand advertising -- to make meaningful connections with real people," Brandt said. 

What, ultimately, does it mean for a digital marketer to connect with a prospect "emotionally?"

"Emotional targeting is a technology and technique that brand marketers use to reach people, elicit positive responses and increase brand recognition based on a person’s emotions," Brandt told CMSWire. 

Dead Banners?

Banners aren’t quite dead, Brandt said, but they are "definitely on life support."

"Banners are quite prevalent on desktop and mobile, but the lack of efficacy of these units is well documented," he added. "Industry data suggests that users prefer immersive, interactive ad formats online and on mobile devices over standard ad formats such as banner ads and pre roll video. Standard units inflict a host of issues -- such as 'banner blindness' -- on marketers."

Digital marketers need to think beyond the banner and include units that are interactive, support dynamic creative messages and deliver the best optimal user experience and value for people, Brandt said.

"Add in emotional targeting to this equation and it’s sure to add value for brand marketers, as well as people."

Lack of Innovation

Digital advertising is 20 plus years old but, as an industry, we haven’t innovated enough on the creative delivery side of marketing, Brandt said.

"The industry focus has been on better targeting, better control of data and better algorithms, which are all important," he added. "However, if the delivery mechanism for these great advancements is still a banner ad -- all that technology is worthless."

As a whole, the Millward Brown Digital survey findings indicate that digital marketers believe the digital ad industry as a whole falls short. 

"I’m skeptical that programmatic methods can deliver the caliber of creative advertising to make meaningful connections, which brands want and need to meet their objectives," Brandt said.

"To accomplish this, they must intelligently use data, targeting technology and high impact ad units that appear during moments when people understand why they’re receiving messages." 

Title image by Kudla (Shutterstock)