Ask any digital marketer what their channel of choice is for achieving their marketing goals, and they’ll likely tell you digital advertising. A mainstay among many digital marketing teams’ toolbox, digital advertising elevated its status throughout the course of the pandemic as people spent more time indoors and online. B2B and B2C marketers alike defended channel investments in digital advertising in order to reach homebound audiences at scale across platforms and devices.
This sentiment is echoed in Gartner’s Digital Marketing Survey 2021. When we asked respondents to rank perceived marketing channel effectiveness across the purchasing funnel, digital advertising consistently ranked highest for achieving brand awareness, demand generation, conversion to sales and customer loyalty and advocacy goals, along with social marketing. This is especially true for digital marketing leaders in consumer products, manufacturing and media companies (see Digital Marketing Survey 2021: Industry Insights on Multichannel Marketing Effectiveness).
However, pandemic-induced consumer habits and data privacy developments remain in flux, making it difficult for digital marketing teams to know how to adapt their digital advertising strategy next as they continue to work to advance their marketing goals.
Here are three ways you can begin to navigate the evolving digital advertising landscape:
Benchmark Your Digital Advertising Efforts
To start, survey the current advertising ecosystem by maintaining a grasp of how digital advertising priorities and efforts stack up against your industry and out-of-industry peers. Gartner clients can compare their digital advertising efforts using the following two resources:
- Data Interactive Tool: Rank Channel Effectiveness by Marketing Objective. Explore and visualize how your peers in and out of your industry rank the effectiveness of digital advertising (among other marketing channels) based on different goals. Leveraging the data visualizations found within this tool, you can compare your own channel preferences with the rankings of your peers to understand how your multichannel marketing strategies align or diverge.
- Digital IQ: Advertising Benchmarks for 2021. Glean insights into how leading brands are capturing audiences with compelling and differentiating ad experiences through our cross-industry benchmarks of digital advertising performance of over 1,100 brands.
Brace for Data Privacy Disruptions
From Google Chrome soon phasing out the use of third-party cookies to Apple prompting users to opt-in or out of app-specific tracking, digital marketing teams can no longer rely on user-level identifiers like they used to.
One way marketing teams are adapting to these ongoing data privacy disruptions is by moving more of their digital advertising efforts within “walled gardens”—giant, consumer-facing digital platforms such as Google (including YouTube), Facebook and Amazon. Take a look at how brands across industries have increased desktop web advertising impressions on YouTube and Amazon between 2Q20 and 1Q21:
Walled gardens attract marketers due to their abundance of owned and constantly updated first-party data. Marketers can use proprietary advertising tools found on these platforms to deliver and measure targeted, brand-safe ads to its users with minimal risk of privacy compliance violations or other customer data blunders. However, in exchange for greater safety and reliability, marketers relinquish transparency and control.
Gartner clients can read Gartner’s Google to Drop All the Cookies, but Hold the Cards and Apple Upsets the Digital Advertising Cart to maintain a pulse on these ongoing data privacy disruptions and learn how to adapt their digital advertising efforts accordingly.
Take Advantage of Consumers’ Increased Appetite for Video Content
Video content provided consumers a much-needed sense of comfort, escape and social connection throughout the course of the pandemic. With more time on their hands, many turned to video for everything from binge watching their favorite series on Netflix to watching exercise and DIY videos on YouTube to live streaming church services on Facebook.
With many of these online viewing habits likely to persist, digital marketing teams can take advantage of this increased time spent consuming video media by creating and placing video ads. You can increase the effectiveness of your video ads by ensuring they serve a defined purpose (i.e., brand story, product/service demonstration or testimonial) and resonate with consumers’ preferences for shorter, humorous and relevant video ads (see How Top Brands Are Excelling at Video Advertising)
Marketers can also extend the use of these often complex and expensive video ads by repurposing them for other ad formats and channels. For example, PepsiCo extended the use of its 15-second video ad on YouTube and reworked its aspect ratios to form a 15-second square video asset to fit Facebook and an 8-second portrait asset for Instagram.
If you want to learn more about how you can advance your digital advertising performance, check out The Gartner Media Strategy Playbook for Marketers. This research outlines ways you can address paid media based on your company’s market position and the competitive dynamics of your respective industry.