Inner Circle

Digital Marketing  

What’s Now, What’s New and What’s Next

by Samantha Lee

At MDG, we are constantly touting the benefits of attending trade shows and conferences. B2B events represent opportunities for professionals to be in their element, surrounded by the technology, innovations and community that define their industries. Last month in San Francisco, I was in my element at ad:tech, an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition. It was a chance for me to learn about the state of digital advertising, what’s on the horizon and how it can be applied to marketing trade shows. Here’s what I learned…

What’s now? Social advertising.
It’s not a new concept, but social advertising is evolving and it’s working. And trade show marketers should take note. Social advertising platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow us to micro-target our message and reach an audience that may be outside our reach through traditional methods. To ensure we’re reaching the right people (especially relevant in B2B), we might target people who have liked competitor Facebook pages (or LinkedIn Groups), industry publications and/or associations. We might also designate a job title, keyword or geographic location, if appropriate. Facebook Custom Audiences allows us to advertise to our existing database with targeted messaging. Seventy-six percent of users log into Facebook daily—so this feature allows us to get in front of prospects on a more consistent basis. It’s also much cheaper than traditional advertising and often more effective, given that it’s highly targeted and direct response.

What’s new? Programmatic advertising.
We heard these two words over and over again in the keynote and breakout sessions as well as on the show floor. So what is it and how is it relevant to trade show marketers? Programmatic platforms such as 1 by AOL automate media buying, selection, allocation and creative through intelligent data algorithms. It’s the holy grail for marketers. The platforms allow you to input your target audience, objectives and budget, and using predictive modeling, it evaluates the inventory across all platforms and screens to identify the optimal marketing mix. Like most sexy marketing tools, programmatic platforms are mostly set up for consumer and branding campaigns, but it’s becoming increasingly important for B2B as well. Our take: This is something to watch, especially over the next several months as larger brands sign on and lessons are shared.

What’s next? Predictive creative.
Marketing collateral for exhibitions focusing on heavy machinery will often avoid the color red (because of the connection to accidents/blood). Industries dominated by working-class men often use bold action images and short, succinct copy. It usually takes a lot of effort to really dive deep into an audience’s psychographic profile. But soon, technology will do the legwork and will back it up with concrete data. Companies like Google are working to create predictive platforms to customize ads by tracking the behavior of different audience segments. The technology will integrate with programmatic advertising platforms and automatically generate targeted creative in real time using HTML5. Knowing whether your audience will respond better to blue vs. green may seem trivial, but sources cite that creative can account for as much as 50 percent of campaign performance. The technology is still a long way off, so for now we’ll have to settle for old-fashioned message and creative testing.

The digital landscape is changing—it’s getting more complicated and cluttered as so many new innovations enter the market. But it’s also getting a lot smarter. Trade show marketers can ensure more of their marketing dollars are reaching the right audiences with the right messages. You’ve probably heard the quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Soon we will know which half!