Bucking the ‘volume-based buy’ digital trend

While the digital landscape in South Africa exploded in 2020, bringing about a huge demand for scale in digital campaigns, 2023 is the time for advertisers to rather hone their focus on contextually relevant environments.

As a result of COVID-19, the digital world became even more of an integral part of our daily lives, which, inevitably, also led to a rush by brands and marketers to embrace it. While this, at face value, was a good thing for publishers, an overwhelming emphasis was unfortunately placed on pursuing audiences, rather than considering the suitability of the actual platforms they are reaching them on and the contextual relevance thereof.

Choose quality over quantity.

In reaction to this, many sales houses went with the trend of securing as many platform partners as possible and gaining access to inventory that would feed audience scale.

Mediamark has however chosen to buck this trend, and it is our belief that placing your brand in contextually relevant, brand safe environments is where the real value in digital campaigns lie. Choosing curated audiences and verticals, and exciting new entrants to the digital realm, such as digital audio, over audiences by scale, has far reaching benefits, in my view.

Advertising in a contextually relevant environment is far better than reaching viewers in free browsing because it allows advertisers to target a more precise audience with a higher likelihood of engaging with their message.

This also means that ad campaigns can be tailored to the specific interests and needs of a given audience, which leads to higher ROI and better overall results for the advertiser. Additionally, contextual targeting allows for more precise targeting of ads, which can help to reduce ad fatigue and prevent users from becoming annoyed by repetitive or irrelevant ads.

Stop taking the easy way out.

Digital is a fast-paced environment, and despite the ease of access that planners have to a multitude of inventory, it is still time and resource intensive, and this becomes even more complex when planning it across specific environments. It really is no wonder then, that advertisers choose to go the quicker route by running campaigns in an open exchange and targeting audiences in free browsing. The tendency is also to run these kinds of campaigns on repeat because there is the belief that if they have delivered once, surely, they will deliver again. While you can still reach a whole lot of audiences that fall into specific behavioural segments, this copy and paste approach is not necessarily the best solution to a client’s requirements.

It is time for marketers to ask if these volume-based campaigns are effective? Is it not more important to get your advertising into spaces that are relevant to the people that are visiting those sites? If you are looking to sell soccer boots, it makes sense to sell them in spaces that soccer players visit, they are in those environments and reading that content because they are interested in it, not just because they landed up there. In this way multiple barriers have already been removed when engaging with your audience and you are that much closer to conversion.

If you are sick of doing run of the mill campaigns, try something new! According to the most recent IAB Spend report, digital audio represents less than 1% of total digital spend, as such it is virtually untouched. This means there is no clutter and ample opportunity for engaging targeted audiences on a one-on-one basis. Advertising to ringfenced video audiences on YouTube means reaching users who are looking for specific content; it’s not user generated which equates to brand safety.  The targeting opportunities are also massive because we know this audience and what they are interested in.

Shift towards contextually relevant campaigns.

Digital marketing provides affordable access to the mass market. But in an industry where there are so many possible avenues to pursue, a key differentiator is being able to offer curated audiences and not simply audiences by scale.

It is only a matter of time before clients start shifting away from mass digital campaigns, towards highly relevant and bespoke digital solutions.

By Mark Botha, Head of Digital at Mediamark