How to Own your Automation

It’s a crazy time to be a digital marketer. It feels like everything is changing. Covid saw a significant shift to online shopping, legislators are putting pressure on how we collect and use data and competition for space has swelled, driving up like-for-like media costs.

Damien Bennett

With this in mind, many advertisers have found the solution to rising media costs in automation. If buying media space becomes more expensive, then it is logical that you have to make that space work harder. Automation has allowed advertisers to respond faster with greater relevance meaning that whilst many are reaching fewer consumers, the consumers they are reaching are more qualified and therefore more likely to buy.

Recently there have been several studies conducted showing the performance improvement advertisers can achieve by using off-the-shelf automated solutions in both Google and Meta’s platforms. Machine learning used in combination with automation has increased the accuracy of decision-making driving up return on investment. But this isn’t enough. While off-the-shelf solutions are providing advertisers with stronger results, they should be seen as a first step where marketers are dipping their toes in the water, rather than jumping in altogether. 

The challenge with off-the-shelf solutions is that they limit advertiser’s ability to be able to differentiate. If all advertisers are using the same automation systems, then it stands to reason that none of them will be able to create a distinct advantage in how they buy and optimize their media strategy.

Advertisers must continue to put pressure on themselves to push the boundaries of what they are achieving with automation. The next step for marketers is to consider how they can start to own their automation, helping them create a competitive advantage through the intelligence in which they deploy their automated strategy.

First-and-foremost machine-learned automation platforms are only as good as the information that they work off. If you get into the weeds of the data that most businesses feed into their automation it typically doesn’t take long to find issues. Sometimes these are technical issues, products mislabeled or duplicate sets of data, and on other occasions they are strategic challenges such as measurement models not being an accurate representation of true value.

To understand what data you should be feeding into your automated solution the key question that you should ask is “What really matters to my business?”. For example, if you’re a business that wins based on having the lowest price point, then it makes sense to feed in data on how price competitive you are for different products.

You might also decide that if your business is focused on profitability then it makes sense to push products with a higher margin. Or, if the focus is on increasing high value customers, then feeding in data that emphasizes areas that are responsible for acquiring higher value customers is logical.

Further to this advertisers should also be looking to develop their own automated solutions where it makes sense to do so. Whilst off-the-shelf solutions provide value they are not perfect. Google and Meta’s systems work within walled gardens meaning that they are only considering the data that is available within their platform.

Building bespoke automated solutions can help businesses to break through some of the limitations of these walled-gardens. For example a bespoke automated solution could allow an advertiser to update its targeting options or creative across multiple platforms at once or even frequency cap across channels.

Tailored automated solutions can help companies to address problems that are specific to their business. This could mean connecting supply chain data with marketing data so that supply and demand are able to work in tandem, resolving a common headache for many companies.

The potential of automation should excite all marketers. The possibilities are endless, and leveraging automation successfully can become a crucial lever in creating competitive advantage. But none of this will be possible unless we put pressure on ourselves to collaborate and knock down silos.

This is the next big ask of marketing teams. Working with data departments, technical teams, logistics and more to build truly interconnected strategies that move beyond the historic boundaries of where marketing’s influence stopped.

For a long time marketing has spoken about the importance of being “customer-centered”. A nod to the fact that great marketing strategies are built around the customer. But perhaps we need to move beyond this to being “growth-centered”, with future marketing leaders being focused on how they can connect the dots of their organization end-to-end to create new opportunities for growth.

If this all sounds complex, it is probably because it is, but that shouldn’t put us off embracing automation to help us move faster and be more relevant. If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that we can handle a little craziness, and we shouldn’t fear pushing the boundaries of what we can do with automation.

Want to learn more about harnessing the power of automation? Watch our latest webinar ‘Rise of the Robots’ where Incubeta took a deep dive into the world of Automation and AI – breaking down how we can actually use these tools to bolster successful strategies across digital.

Watch here


*Updated 20.03.23

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