The automation revolution in online marketing: a brief overview

- Luke Metcalfe

“By 2017, CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs.” – Laura McLellan, Gartner

Today, in the age of automation and machine learning, data and technology play a major role in driving business. It might feel as though it all happened overnight, but in recent years the face of digital marketing has undergone massive transformation.

Innovation in automation

“Today is early and slow”. That’s something Google UK’s David Sneddon mentioned in his keynote presentation at the Google Analytics Conference in Vienna this April.

Nowadays, the latest hot trends quickly turn into old news. As with hardware (remember how suddenly Nokia fell from its dominant position as the leading mobile phone manufacturer?) a lot of innovation is happening at great speed in online marketing these days. This is especially noticeable in the shift towards marketing tools and tactics that are automatically controlled, processed and optimized by data and algorithms (programmatic marketing).

In PPC, programmatic marketing algorithms can help manage big accounts efficiently (scripts, automated rules, etc) and offer Bid Management strategies – as Crealytics’ automation & intelligence tool Camato does. The result is that ad spend goes further and digital marketing methods become more streamlined.

For testing and optimization – the daily business of PPC Managers – data is the cornerstone. Technology helps here: on the one hand to process and prepare data, and on the other, to provide intelligent tools for efficient testing setup and implementation.

From thousands to one

There is also a big shift from audience-targeting to more specific user-targeting. Even granularly-defined audiences are now considered too broad. The famous example of how Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne both fit demographically into the same audience group (British, male, born 1948, married, children > 1, annual income > $25m) is testament to the flaws that audience-based targeting can carry. This is exactly why the industry’s focus has moved increasingly towards user interests and behaviour, combined with user demographics, instead of user demographics alone.

The advantage from an advertiser’s perspective is that budgets can be better controlled to avoid “blind” bidding. At the same time, users are more intelligently accompanied through their customer journey, and are only presented with relevant ads. Another benefit of the programmatic approach is that one user’s impressions can be more closely monitored, helping to avoid the annoyance of repeated and/or irrelevant ads being shown. From a brand perspective, this is especially critical.

What’s next?

Data-driven automation in advertising technology is becoming the norm throughout all online marketing channels We’ve seen radical transformation in display advertising through programmatic user-specific targeting, and here in Search, we are maybe only a few small steps away from fully-automated, real-time actions and user-specific customizations. What do you think?


Luke is a Content Marketer at Crealytics

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