Like everything online, display advertising trends keep evolving at great pace. Gone are the days when there used to be just a banner on the mast and a box ad on the top right corner of the screen. Today, if you enter an ecommerce portal (a website which is like an online mall) to look up trousers and shirts, it may be that you would get ‘bombarded’ with various kinds of ads trying to attract you with things that you have a weakness for, other than what you have entered the portal to buy.
For instance, if you have a weakness for stiletto shoes, you might find ads popping up in every page you visit, trying to attract you with different kinds of stiletto shoes, even though you don’t intend to buy them now, since your shopping list just includes trousers and shirt for now. If you’re alert, you might ponder – “how is it that these advertisers know I like stiletto shoes?”
Surely, for an ordinary customer visiting an ecommerce portal to look up trousers and shirts, it is difficult to understand how such ads are targeting her in this manner? Let’s get behind the scene to understand just how is it that the advertisers know this customer is fond of stiletto shoes? To put it simply, this isn’t the first time she would have visited an ecommerce portal, which means she’s a regular online shopper who has been visiting numerous ecommerce portals. It doesn’t require a great flash of brilliance to understand that during all these visits to different online shopping portals, this customer would have spent most of her time looking for stiletto shoes, which we know, is her weakness. Still, we don’t yet know how all these advertisers know her weakness.
Marketing automation is among the major display advertising trends
Not many people would know about marketing automation unless they’re connected to online marketing or the IT industry in some way. Marketing automation involves algorithms in a website that sync with big data (humongous loads of data) and artificial intelligence to perform promotional, selling and upselling actions at scale. This may not be an adequate definition of marketing automation but for the purpose of what this blog intends to convey about trends in online advertising, this should be enough. There is no doubt that this is highly sophisticated technology at work and it is also very expensive. On the flip side, marketers know very well that it is gradually becoming indispensible in display advertising but as it acquires scale, it is also becoming more affordable.
Let’s get back to the customer with a weakness for stiletto shoes and how marketing automation has been able to map her preferences. Understandably, there are several tools meeting different objectives that make up a marketing automation suite and these are customized as per the marketers’ or advertisers’ requirements. For instance the marketing automation requirements of a portal selling multiple products across different categories and that of a seller of say, stiletto shoes, would obviously be different not just in terms of scale but also in terms of the number of automation tools they need. The portal where the customer was bombarded with ads for stiletto shoes apparently uses a large suite of marketing automation tools which would know how to integrate details of customer’s preferences with advertisers on the portal.
Use of Big Data is another major display advertising trend
How many times the customer with a weakness for stiletto shoes visited this portal and other portals looking for stiletto shoes and how many other customers like her with similar weaknesses have been mapped with other aspects of their browsing habits is a matter of analytics at scale. Such analytics are powered by very sophisticated algorithms that compute all such data and make them useful for users of the marketing automation, like marketers and advertisers. It would be futile for ordinary shoppers to even think about the amount of data that gets processed by these algorithms every minute and we should simply be happy to know that the data is being optimized for marketing and display advertising among others.
The accumulation of data is a natural process in a society that is driven by information technology. The term Big Data evolved when this data load was threatening to go out of control. Some geek somewhere, found out the first rudimentary ways of getting a grip of the data and then one thing led to another. Today, humongous loads of data are no longer a threat because their optimum utilization have become much easier, thanks to Big Data processing abilities. In fact, businesses now want more and more data about their customers to be able to bombard them with relentless display advertising. As if that’s not all, we now have another great data processing innovation called Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is getting businesses ever closer to their customers and at this rate it won’t be long before they become our shadow.