Digital Essays 2022: Connect to convert – by Publicis Groupe’s Rana Zeidan

Publicis Groupe’s Rana Zeidan shares how advertisers can achieve reach on every channel, improve relevance and deliver content at the right time

By Rana Zeidan, head of APEX, Publicis Groupe

It sounds very simple: find the sweet spot of your target audience and yield the result you want. The catch? Today’s complex consumer is not easily wooed. If you want their time and attention, you need to reach out to them wisely. Thanks to the advancements in digital, the task is much simpler, but only if brands have the right strategy and tech tools in place.

The digital ecosystem is evolving constantly, while the economic downturn continues to cause uncertainty in delivery and overall client commitments. Still, one thing is for sure: we are in need of a big shake-up if we are going to come out stronger on the other side. On a wider scale, the MENA market still lags behind more established markets when it comes to digital adoption. The region certainly does not lack ambition and it is known for innovation. However, we are reminded that mindsets do not change overnight.

We see a gradual shift as new channels take away from the spend on traditional media. This is a good indicator that clients are ready to embrace the next wave of digital platforms like podcasts, DOOH and e-commerce. Performance is turning into a larger focus area for clients. Embracing the right technology can help with integration and measurement while mapping the consumer journey across multiple devices and content. Experience is everything; it starts with understanding who the audience is and what they need. 

Clients need to consider digital as an end-to-end server that is plugged into multiple layers of technology. It allows them to tailor personalised messages at a contextually relevant time and place. This is an important factor when brands work towards building and sustaining a connection with consumers who are increasingly vocal that they do not want to be disturbed or bombarded with multiple messages. Consumers also prefer content that is relevant to the platform they are active on. There is a golden opportunity here to move from the concept of hard-sell towards storytelling, especially with audio as an aid. Consider the power of a human voice when you want to induce an emotive reaction. It is real, open and honest – the perfect counterpoint to untailored or automated communications. Moreover, the context, relevance and positioning play a huge role, in addition to content and channel. Brands need to be aware that clutter is a real issue. By bidding and owning key spots, brands can ensure that visibility and viewability are taken into account and it will help drive return on ad spend.

Investments in focus 

With uncertainty surrounding world economic markets, marketers are taking a cautious approach to investments as we close Q4 2022. It is not easy for brands to move from established media to newer channels. Yet, staying stagnant is a sure-fire way to lose relevance in this progressive, digital-first world. It boils down to how we reframe online media and show the value behind data-driven intelligence.

Brands can gain insights about channels that resonate most with their target audience by starting from upper-funnel awareness. It can ensure that their budgets are optimised according to what performs best. This is a key step to reduce clutter and improve conversion potential across the rest of the funnel. Brands also need to be more confident about using existing technology to effectively manage and monitor campaigns in real time.

Currently, programmatic is not used efficiently enough to add meaning to media spends. Yet, this technology can help us to actualise reach across every channel, improve relevance and deliver content at the right time. This comes as a huge advantage at a time when costs are soaring. Adding programmatic to your tech stack will give you complete visibility across multiple platforms, thereby allowing for a more targeted approach.

When it comes to walled gardens and investment share, we see that clients are beginning to diversify their budgets – a smart move considering their reach is stagnated and the frequency cannot go any higher. This is especially true of social platforms right now as there is so much content circulating. If it is not 100 per cent relevant to the environment, a brand does not stand out and risks being relegated to just another click.

To stay ahead of the curve, clients ultimately need to be more flexible in allocating their investments and distributing a portion to new tech, particularly those that focus on IDs, targeting and cookieless solutions.

The cookieless future is here

We may have been mentally preparing for the cookieless future for the past few years, but we are still far from prepared for the day when it comes into effect. Clients need to collaborate with agencies equipped with the right tech tools to prioritise first-party data and work with partners that are developing contextual targeting solutions.

By failing to act now, brands risk losing their media presence or audience tracking measurement when the cookie finally does crumble. To ultimately succeed, we need to prioritise connection over conversion and explore the full scope of digital offerings.