Cross-platform advertising is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to get a message out to the masses. With the average person expected to cling to more than 13 connected devices in 2023, cross-platform advertising has to be mainstream.
Despite the need for advertisers to spread their wealth across all touchpoints, it’s not a staple in the diet of many advertisers.
For a publisher engaging a prospective brand, the conversations can’t simply be centered around whether a brand should engage in paid search, but rather, how they can integrate paid search with paid social, organic reach, podcast sponsorship, YouTube ads, OTT, and more.
That’s easier said than done.
While the market has come together to bring these historically siloed ecosystems together via cross-channel technology and universal identifiers, there’s still a lot of fragmentation.
Below, we explore how to speak the cross-platform language to your prospects and how you can leverage your fluency to increase your share of wallet.
The Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat of Cross-Platform Advertising
In Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, host Samin Nosrat makes it her mission to drive home that every recipe involves these four elements of delicious food in some capacity. It’s just a matter of striking a balance between them. With the right levels of each, amateur cooks and professional chefs alike can create the perfect dish. It’s that simple.
That way of thinking should extend to how advertisers think about cross-platform advertising.
What’s Cross-Platform Advertising?
Cross-platform advertising means you can build a stronger brand by delivering ads across multiple platforms, including search, social, display, OTT, podcasts, and other relevant channels to your target audience. A thoughtful cross-platform advertising strategy ensures a brand appears on all the channels and devices its target audience uses daily.
Nikki Gilliland at Econsultancy said, “As well as creating a single customer view, cross-channel advertising can also help brands to create and deliver a seamless customer experience – i.e., consistent and unified brand messaging across multiple channels and devices.”
Note two words: customer experience.
Today and every day in the future, consumers will put a premium on the experience brands deliver. According to PwC, 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing brand loyalties.
At the same time, 77% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
So, yeah, the customer experience is a big deal.
Ads are a part of that.
But extending a marketing budget across multiple channels and platforms can prove difficult for brands with a finite number of dollars to spend.
The question then becomes: How can you help prospects build a strong cross-platform campaign on a budget?
Step 1: Narrow Their Channels (Salt)
Advertisers have been bullish on cross-platform advertising for years. In 2018, the IAB reported that 83% of advertisers see cross-platform measurement has improved since 2017. Since then, cross-platform advertising has advanced even more.
For example, The Trade Desk (TTD) recently debuted a tool to help advertisers activate first-party data across channels and devices.
Although brands are waking up to the idea of cross-platform advertising, many are keeping their campaigns in a silo. Some are ignoring channels altogether.
Despite OTT’s growth, only 3% of monthly digital ad spend goes to OTT.
Meanwhile, of the advertisers who invested in Meta’s ecosystem in 2022, 72% allocated ad dollars exclusively to Facebook.
This isn’t ideal, but it makes sense. The advertising world is complex—and with only so much to spend, it can be easy for brands to default to one or two channels. Or maybe stick to their tried-and-true channels, like Facebook, and neglect up-and-coming ones, like OTT.
While brands may want to land on as many touchpoints as possible, a cross-platform strategy isn’t “complete” only when they check all the boxes. A handful of relevant platforms absolutely meet the definition of cross-platform advertising.
To determine where a prospect’s limited ad dollars should go, take a step back to truly understand who they’re trying to reach and where they can get the most bang for their buck.
This handful of channels can make for the sturdy foundation of a good cross-platform campaign without overwhelming the prospect’s budget or brain.
Step 2: Take Time With Good Content (Fat)
The goal in advertising is to go from first impressions to conversion. But to get there, prospects have to take the ‘middle’ seriously. Good content is in the middle.
Getting many views on a social media ad won’t matter as much if there’s no clear CTA.
Landing a sponsorship on a top podcast won’t be as effective without a concise and engaging message to share.
Getting visitors to a landing page will go nowhere unless there’s interesting content there and around the site.
Good content can be at the center of the tapestry, with all the different media threads pulling to the same point.
This has less to do with staying under budget than using the budget effectively.
The insurance company began the campaign with a series of TV spots presented as short stories. The screen cut to black at pivotal moments in the dramas, replaced with a CTA, e.g., “Find out what happens next,” and a link to the website.
On the site, viewers could choose one of three potential endings and continue the conversation using the hashtag on social media.
The campaign wasn’t just cross-media. It didn’t just post similar creatives on different platforms. John Hancock placed a good story at the center and used multiple platforms to connect all the dots.
Here’s a more recent example from The Trade Desk.
The campaign, dubbed “What Matters,” delivered a compelling story across channels popular with its target audience: programmatic connected TV (CTV), digital out-of-home (DOOH), online video, and YouTube.
Step 3: Track Everything (Acid)
Advertising is long past the Mad Men age of throwing an ad out there and seeing what sticks. The days of throwing spaghetti at the wall are over. Advertising can be a science, and nothing will help your prospects maintain their limited budget like keeping a close eye on the metrics.
But not just any metrics. The metrics that point to tangible business impact. Impressions and clicks are great, but return on ad spend (ROAS) is even better.
This is not the space to dive into the specifics of advertising metrics (though it is worth noting that media companies dependent on multichannel distribution, like SlingTV and NBCU, are developing unified cross-platform metrics).
We will dive into some high-level steps you and your prospects should take to ensure they get the best return on their ad dollars.
First, start by developing relevant metrics for each platform. What are they trying to accomplish on each channel, and which metrics will help them measure that?
Second, develop a means of comparing successes that otherwise may look like an apples-to-oranges scenario. Remember: Not all metrics are created equal. A video view on YouTube is measured differently than one on Facebook, meaning you can’t simply compare the two platforms to determine where video ad dollars should go.
Finally, look at what works and what doesn’t, and then adjust accordingly. No need to stick to PPC when that banner ad is returning twice the conversion for half the price. A true cross-platform advertising strategy is built on a foundation of constant iteration and optimization.
Looking for some inspiration?
More recently, Airbnb shocked the advertising world when it announced it was focusing on brand marketing and not search—a focus that’s working.
Chief Financial Officer Dave Stephenson said, “Our brand marketing results are delivering excellent results overall with a strong rate of return, and it’s been so successful that we’re actually expanding to more countries.”
And now for the pun-of-all-puns we’ve been waiting for: With the right channels, content, and metrics in place, you can bring the heat. Sometimes advertisers feel like deciding on digital ads vs. traditional ads is an either/or situation. But, with the right elements in place, you can have your Russian Honey Cake and eat it too.
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