2016 is the year marketers will refocus on what counts: people | DMA

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2016 is the year marketers will refocus on what counts: people


With 2016 well and truly underway, brands are thinking about their goals and strategies for success. But with all the changes that a new year brings, there is one key trend that won’t be going away: consumers who are connected all the time, everywhere.

People are constantly interacting with brands all day long on devices, the web, and in person. In the UK, mobile now accounts for 50.3% of all ecommerce traffic (source: Shopify), and according to Econsultancy, 32% of UK consumers now make purchases on a smartphone. This is the new marketing battleground: reaching always-on consumers who demand relevance.

This, of course, is no small task, and is only becoming more difficult with the proliferation of channels and devices – and tools to manage them all. While marketers are awash in solutions and platforms, finding and knowing your true customer is more challenging than it’s ever been.

The shift that will prevail in 2016 is this: while technology continues to advance, marketers will increasingly refocus on what counts: people. Marketers have realised that digital marketing is moving beyond browsers and web cookies – the bits of code developed in the 1990s to help marketers interact with their customers in the digital world. And, they’re understanding that their most valuable asset is right under their noses: their own customer engagement data.

To fully leverage the goldmine that is first-party data, marketers must take a powerful people-based approach – that is, recognising and reaching customers, wherever they are, on any device – to deliver the seamless, personalised experiences that will drive engagement, loyalty, and ROI.

Traditionally, a brand’s ability to reach true customers was confined to email and direct mail marketing. Then in late 2014, Facebook introduced ‘people-based marketing’ to help advertisers target addressable audiences by deterministically matching their customer lists with Facebook’s deep well of known user data.

This new people-focused approach has ignited excitement among marketers for the power of first-party data and customer relationships. Facebook’s ad revenues, which are predicted to nearly triple from $11 billion in 2014 to $27 billion in 2017, underscore the growing demand for people-based marketing solutions. Google and Twitter have also introduced their own offerings for targeting known customers rather than cookies, and Microsoft is expected to do the same.

And though advertisers are finding campaign success with these media companies, they are also hungry to experience the same success outside of walled garden properties. Now, disruptive new addressable media alternatives have emerged to help marketers target multi-device customers outside of walled gardens like Facebook and Google, on the myriad of other content sites and apps frequented by consumers. These new solutions enable brands to move beyond people-based advertising to people-based engagement across all their channels. Key capabilities that brands should look for are:

An approach that is based on targeting people, not cookies. This is important because cookie-based methods expire or decay after 180 days, meaning brands constantly have to rebuild their view of their customers.

The ability to harness in-market signals, which enables advertisers to recognise customers and target them with relevant messages when they’re in-market.

Speed. Until recently, advertisers had to wait days to connect offline data to online platforms for targeting. Through new people-based marketing solutions, the process can take place in minutes.

Marketing to known customers requires an approach that’s quite different than traditional retargeting or unknown targeting using third-party data. While those tactics work well for building awareness and acquiring new customers, the customers who have already done business with your brand have much higher expectations. Upselling, cross-selling and building retention and loyalty is all about engaging customers in the context of the relationship at each step of the journey. Those who get people-based marketing right in 2016 will be well positioned to win, while reaping the rewards of outsized returns and sustainable competitive advantage.

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