The most important part of any marketing or advertising campaign is making sure you reach the right people.
No one knows that more than Oracle Data Cloud’s vice president of data science, Robin Opie, who was interviewed in Sequent Partners’ recent research, Digital Video at the Inflection Point. Oracle is a leader in digital measurement with one of the world’s largest databases of consumer purchase information. Brands all over the world can use this data to ensure they’re reaching the right person, in the right context and at the right time.
To dig deeper into the targeting and measurement side of advertising, our CMO, Jeff Fagel, sat down with Opie to learn more about what marketers are doing well, where Oracle sees room for improvement and why the company feels digital video presents a massive opportunity for brands moving forward.
Robin Opie: This is one of the most exciting times in marketing because we’re about to see the best of both digital and video. We have all of the precision, sophistication, targeting and measurement capabilities of the digital world, and we’re starting to see that combined with the immersive video experience that’s always been so powerful in the TV space.
The capability for measurement itself is already very robust, and now we’re starting to invest in comparing video to other, cross-channel media in a way that allows brands to understand all the things that happened in a period of time—as opposed to just in a specific campaign. In the early years, the industry didn’t have a lot of purchase data or the ability to connect that data to online events. Today, we have almost census-level coverage of online events that we can compare against $3 trillion in consumer data. It’s going to be absolutely fantastic.
Fagel: I’m curious to hear more about some of the cross-channel research you’ve been doing. Where does video stack up against other types of media?
Opie: All else being equal, video is a much, much stronger vehicle than static ads. But it’s very difficult to just say, “Hey, switch to video! It’s twice as good as static media.” What we’re seeing in our research is that beyond using the right media format, a successful campaign hinges on things like frequency management, targeting and the quality of your creative.
Another thing that complicates our ability to compare video to other formats is the fact that many campaigns are not created to drive short-term return on investment. As an example, we’ll sometimes see a brand run a pure conquesting campaign that targets loyalists or medium-heavy buyers of their biggest competitor. In this case, even a perfect campaign is unlikely to deliver big sales lift right off the bat. So unless you’re measuring return on investment over a longer timeframe, you’re not going to be able to record these high-value conversions. That’s why it’s so important for our products to show our clients the short-term and the long-term view.
Fagel: This technology has developed so rapidly that I think we sometimes forget how new all of this is, even to experienced marketers. How well are brands adapting to the innovations we’ve seen in this space?
Opie: It’s interesting. Some marketers are becoming very sophisticated, but many of them are only using measurement to answer basic questions like “Did my campaign work?” and “What’s my ROI?” That’s certainly a valuable component of measurement, but the technology has advanced to a point where we can deliver much more actionable information if marketers ask for it. Instead of just saying that a campaign worked and your CFO should give you more money, we can say things like, “Here’s what worked and here’s who it worked on.”
From there, we can work with our clients to put together a learning agenda that allows us to methodically test different aspects of a campaign over a three- to six-month period. It’s hard work to really sit down and think rigorously about these kinds of things, but companies that embrace this approach can create an enormous advantage for themselves in the market. In fact, I think it’s a big enough concept to move the needle when it comes to determining the winners and losers in a given industry.
Fagel: I think you’re absolutely right. Are there any brands you see doing a really good job of this?
Opie: We’ve been really impressed by what one of our CPG clients is doing. For example, they’re asking hard questions like, “Which of our products do we see people putting in the same shopping carts?” This way, they can create audience segments that allow them to advertise multiple products at the same time–essentially maximizing the ad value of their entire portfolio. I think there are a lot of other folks who are getting really disciplined about telling publishers how they want to measure their campaigns and putting together programs to systematically uncover these kinds of insights.
Fagel: How can brands go about building these systems for themselves?
Opie: It’s really just a matter of saying, “Okay, what is my learning agenda? What am I trying to understand over the next three to six months?” If you structure your campaign around what you’re trying to measure, you’re going to get reports that tell you, “These subpopulations responded best to Creative A, these groups were influenced by Creative B.” And then you just have this explosion of capabilities. You can microtarget, you can control execution and you can do these things with the rich media vehicle of video.
It’s very easy to pontificate and say, “Gee, I think Creative A would be great for Audience B.” But now, we actually have the ability to say, “Here’s how Creative A performed against Audience B versus Creative B for Audience B.” If the companies that are experimenting with these different creative types don’t have robust, disciplined learning agendas, it’ll be so easy to waste incredible amounts of money.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.