Promotional feature
The Exchange Lab

The most important tool in the marketer's tech toolbox... and you're missing it

Everybody is talking technology, speed and scale - but marketers must not forget the thing that matters most: the customer. The Exchange Lab's Chris Hopkins explains how to prioritise people in programmatic...

It is easy to get caught up in the tangle of tech that drives programmatic advertising today.

In any single campaign, a marketer might find themselves working with an ad server, multiple DSPs, a DMP, an ad-verification provider, an attribution-measurement platform and dozens of audience-data providers. That’s before they think about hooks into internal CRM systems, industry statistics and third-party brand-lift measurement partners.

By this stage, the marketer has not mentioned the most important part of the campaign – the customer. Looking at market research along with website, social and past campaign data can all help to understand the customer when planning a campaign but sometimes this data is incomplete or not available. Even if it is available it should always be scrutinized. Think about the customer experience before you begin to select the appropriate tools, find the right partner and cement your strategy.

Tackle the customer experience first
What does the customer care about? Why would the customer want to buy this product? This is the foundation of building out a campaign plan. The marketer must step outside the tools and get into the consumer’s head. Does the available data you have before the campaign starts make sense? Does it have blind spots? What might lie within those blind spots? The client’s market research, for instance, might identify an audience segment with a strong affinity for the brand, but may be missing a less obvious but just as potent potential customer that needs consideration. Careful thought and additional research among a team of smart marketers can reveal new targets, targets they can test from the outset.

Paving the way to purchase
What would the customer do before deciding to buy that product? Available data may highlight a clear path to purchase that the marketer can optimize against – but what if there are potential customers who are not being marketed to in a meaningful way? Or what if the product is new and this path is undiscovered? Starting with a test budget can form a powerful source of market research and can quickly reveal how customers want to interact with a brand.

Before a campaign starts, consider how to treat those that have already purchased. This may sound like putting the cart ahead of the horse but if your campaign is deployed effectively customers could start rolling in right away. And to treat them the same as those that have not purchased yet can really put off repeat business.

Depending on the type of product, the customer needs time to breath after purchase, before they are ready to buy again. Brands must avoid coming across as unaware, or worse aggressive, by showing repeated ads for an already-bought product, that the customer is still falling in love with. But if you exclude them from your campaign for a time then come back at the right moment – in the right way – they will love you for it and might even recommend your product.

Researching the customer pays
Understanding the customer is critical to deciding on the right mix of technology to bring to a campaign.

Finding the right partner that knows the full breadth of available tools, and more importantly when and where to apply them is the key to activating this knowledge about the customer effectively. Make use of the amazing toolbox available today for the marketer but do not forget to start with the customer and to understand them well.

Chris Hopkins is senior director of analytics North America at The Exchange Lab. He has 20 years of experience in advanced analytics and strategic business planning, focusing on cutting edge digital marketing in addition to big data applications. Driven by a burning curiosity about how consumers interact with the shifting media landscape Chris strives to discover hidden opportunities with a data-driven approach.

The Exchange Lab is the headline sponsor of Campaign’s 40 over 40 campaign.



Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


The latest work, news, advice, comment and analysis, sent to you every day

register free