6 tips to ensure your display strategy is fit for now

Chris Tate,

In recent weeks, life as we know it has changed – and quickly! As the pressure mounts on businesses across the UK, many marketers are faced with the same challenges; it’s difficult to know how to respond from a strategic viewpoint, let alone how to adjust tactics in a shifting landscape. 

With that in mind, we’d like to share with you some of the insights we’ve collated over the last week or two, alongside tips on how to optimise your display advertising campaigns during this difficult period.

Shifts in consumer behaviour and inventory changes

Last week, global display inventory increased by 17% compared to the same period two weeks earlier, based on the Google DV360 inventory reports we’ve observed. The changes to people’s daily lives has led to an increase in online browsing behaviour and, as a result, an increase in available display inventory and impressions. There have been increases in specific content categories including News, Hobbies, Technology and Education. Furthermore, based on data from Pubmatic, ad spend on News inventory increased by 52% from 15th-18th March vs March 1st-4th.

This increase in available ad space has also had an impact on CPMs with programmatic prices down over 10% according to Teads. This has impacted certain types of inventory more heavily, including news content, with many advertisers implementing strict brand safety measures to avoid coronavirus content. Ad verification company DoubleVerify found that the volume of content blocked because it was associated with the coronavirus had increased by 80%.

People are consuming more media on mobile devices than usual and mobile ad inventory has increased to reflect this. According to data provided to us from mobile DSP Blis, mobile CTR has increased by 60% over the last two weeks.

Streaming and social platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Disney + and Facebook have seen huge increases in video content consumption too. In order to reduce the effect on ISPs, many streaming platforms have reduced video quality options, as well as removing 4k content and reducing bit rates. Netflix said its European viewers would use 25% less data when watching films as a consequence of the change.

So, with all of this in mind, how should you adapt your programmatic strategy to the new reality? 

Here are some of the practical steps you can take to ensure your budgets are not only well spent, but effective in reaching your target audience.

1. Manage your recency settings and optimise retargeting

The browsing behaviour of practically everyone has changed over the last few weeks, including the products they are buying and researching. Advertisers have responded by changing what they can sell. Make sure you segment your remarketing campaigns by recency (time since a user visited your website) and ensure you’re not re-marketing to users who visited your site before the pandemic in the same way you reach users who have hit your site today. 

Whilst some marketers have chosen to pause advertising during this period, it’s important to ensure you’re still engaging with people who have visited your website. Whether that’s promoting top selling products or providing guidance on delivery estimates will differ business-to-business, the important thing is ensuring that engagement.

2. Optimise your budgets by device

Due to the increase in mobile traffic, it’s important to make sure your campaigns are segmented by device so you can manage bids and budgets effectively across each type of device. However, when making decisions around mobile spend, you should be looking at the cross-device research journey and latency (time to conversion) before pulling back on mobile spend.

3. Optimise your creative

Make sure your creative promotes any changes to your business’ shipping, product offerings or pricing during this period. Although it’s important to control where and who sees your ad, the creative is also key. Make sure you’re highlighting key business messages. Some business who aren’t selling products may want to switch to a brand message opposed to direct response, sales-led creative.

4. Consider your contextual strategy/brand safety strategy

Some advertisers may not want to appear next to content around coronavirus. You can control where your ads appear by utilising negative keyword, content, and placement strategies. The increase in demand for news content around coronavirus presents an opportunity for advertisers where their ads are less sensitive, as they’re able to purchase premium inventory at a lower cost.

5. Make sure you’re managing your bidding strategy efficiently

The increase in ad inventory and mobile traffic will lead to fluctuations in bid prices for certain devices, audiences and publications. Make sure you’re reviewing your bid strategy to make sure you’re paying the lowest possible price for your inventory. Where inventory isn’t purchased on a dynamic CPM (or similar model) and you’re paying on a fixed CPM, discuss with your publisher if there’s any added value they’re willing to add to your campaign or reduced rates they can offer.

6. Utilise video to maintain brand awareness and increase market share

Video content consumption has increased, leading to an inventory increase and a drop in prices. Whilst some advertisers may not be able to sell their products at this difficult time or choose not to adopt a hard sales strategy, there’s an opportunity to switch to an engagement-led strategy. Brands should be looking to build a relationship with their target audience utilising video content and brand formats during this period.

It’s fair to say the media landscape has been flipped on its head. Remaining vigilant and well-connected to the metrics within campaigns is more essential than ever, and it’s vital to be sensitive and considered with your creative. Tone-deaf brands will be given short shrift, but those who get it right will gain lasting trust from their customers when they come out on the other side.

The Author

Chris Tate, Head of Display

Chris has over 7 years' experience in Display and has delivered successful campaigns across a wide variety of sectors including travel, hospitality, luxury retail, food & drink, sport and professional services, to name a few.

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