Ever thought about the value of cookies to advertisers and campaign managers? Understanding consumer behavior is one of the biggest conversations in advertising, as the importance of finding profitable users drives the bottom line. From mobile to desktop, identifying how you interact with advertisements and navigate through different websites is data that's leveraged to curate content and produce products that you'll buy into. With the intersection of media and tech at the forefront of our industry, companies are looking for marketers that can analyze data while also being curious, agile, and insightful. This is what separates the rookies from the professionals.
Switching industries three times before he landed his current role, Neville Hall Jr. understood the value of being as nimble and multifaceted as possible. He focused his efforts on positioning himself in an impactful environment that challenged digital media's outlook on innovation and technology. Neville is now a Solutions Consultant at AppNexus and talked to us about his outlook on the advertising technology industry and how he applies his expertise to maximize ad spend on users.
How do you define media? How does it impact you as a person and as a professional?
Media is a tool used to persuade, manipulate and influence culture, social norms, and consumer behavior.
Professionally, media helps me make better strategic decisions on behalf of my clients. With digital advertising is constantly changing, understanding the evolving landscape (the internet) is paramount to being successful on the job and driving desirable results for the client. Personally, I believe that media is like drinking from a fire hose, you can consume so much, so fast. The world of media is infinite and you can lose your sense of self to groupthink and second guess your own opinions due to so many voices on your timeline. So, be mindful and control what you consume.
How would you describe the intersection between media and technology?
The lines are completely blurred and they work simultaneously. Technology has made media so accessible it is hard to disassociate one from the other. In its current state, you can receive media from all kinds of technology sources, credible or not. Media is controlled by the masses and no longer constrained to authentic and professional journalism. Social has become the breaking source of all things news, that’s where it happens first. From social injustice and politics to major tech announcements and live event coverage, social media has opened the floodgates to real-time news—it’s raw reporting.
Give us a day in the life of Neville, the Solutions Consultant at AppNexus. What does that even mean?
Rise: To start my day, I turn on my sound system and blast a mix of J. Cole, Ty Dolla Sign, Pusha T, and YG. Music is very much a form of therapeutic way to put me in a good thinking space. During my hour-long commute, I get to dive into some of my preferred forms of media, courtesy of The New York Times, Bleacher Report, and Blavity.
Grind: Once I get to work, I begin building a report that includes daily ad campaign spend and online order totals for my client. This allows a thorough analysis how well our digital marketing campaigns are performing and ensure that we’re on track to meet the client’s KPIs (key performance indicators).
Optimize: I review the setup of my client’s current campaign in detail and diagnose what optimizations need to be made. Then I proceed to trade, strategically place, monitor, and adjust online ads so they’ll have the greatest impact with the lowest cost to our client. I feel empowered to invent, using data and a bit of creativity to discover fresh ways to deliver for our clients.
Collaborate: I meet with a few product and engineering teammates. The product team is often developing new products and features for our trading platform. So, we spend the hour running tests and examining detailed feedback on user experience, efficiency, and trading functionality. Furthermore, I work with my managers to discuss performance and strategic account planning.
Before I leave the office for the day, I stop by our beautiful high-ceilinged library and check out some new books, I’m always stoked to continue learning as much as I can.
Not sure if marketing technology sounds sexy. What's the dopest thing you've seen so far in this space so far?
The advancement of user cookie-tracking towards people based tracking is the smartest move I have seen in digital advertising. This allows companies to target people with specific messaging as opposed to simply targeting devices. When a customer uses two separate devices (let’s say their laptop and their phone) to purchase from a single website, these purchases are treated as two completely different visitors. To aggregate customer data, you need to be able to track their behavior as they move across devices or even offline. With this information, you can create targeted content and fragment segments with highly granular detail.
With the tech industry being the powerhouse of information gathering, the ability to advertise to consumers based on their recorded preferences and online behaviors has grown immensely. The industry’s biggest telcos, retailers, and payment providers have become so sophisticated at targeting specific users by leveraging first-party data to track, prospect and retarget potential customers.
Where do you see the industry changing in 2018 as it pertains to digital advertising?
Artificial Intelligence: Digital advertising will continue to get smarter and take on more and more artificial intelligence traits. Since the inception of new technology, as a society, we have foreshadowed robots controlling the world. We’re seeing it now, just not in the way it is depicted on the big screen. These robots are not human in shape and stature; however, they do possess humanistic traits like visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and names (i.e., Alexa and Siri).
Mergers and Asset Building: In the past 10 years, we have seen the landscape of business to consumer interaction drastically shift. How consumers choose to buy, leave feedback, share their shopping experience, how businesses sell, market and reach their audiences. As this structural shift continues to ramp up, the push to continue to compete will be evident in big acquisitions and mergers with hopes big businesses tripling their assets just to remain competitive.
Competition for Engagement: We will see companies consolidating to capture a higher market share or venture into new markets to leverage new/existing consumer data to compete with their industry counterparts and the universal giants like Amazon and Google. Essentially, in 2018, companies will need to hone in on their internet strategies and continue engaging consumers with customized content that keeps them relevant and competitive for the next 20 years.
Outside Demo Penetration: As businesses merge and venture into new territory, we will also see a growing emphasis on CSR (corporate social responsibility) and brands will place a large focus on sharing their core values with consumers to further solidify themselves as an authentic brand. You'll see this when a brand tries to infiltrate a different demographic outside of their traditional audience or market. Companies will emphasize their concern and awareness of the consumers' values instead of just their dollars. From a company leadership perspective, the conversation about gender and racial diversity at the C-level executive level will be on-going in the public eye.
How do you want to define yourself in the industry?
Having a full understanding of the advertising landscape from a highly specialized tech perspective and knowing how to play it smart is my edge as a rising thought-leader. My energy lies on focusing on maximizing ad spend on users going through the sales funnel, mastering the emerging digital formats on targeting the best people and being equipped to consult businesses on the techniques that will give them the highest return on ad spend
Navigating in ad-tech feels like the culmination of gaining relevant experience from my previous roles and a little bit of luck. Every era has that one distinctive feature that defined a specific time, for Millennials, its technology and it’s going to change the world for many more years to come.