What Is Cross-Channel Advertising? And Why Is It So Difficult?
Cross-channel advertising is the practice of unifying a campaign’s disparate advertising channels towards one objective.
But managing multiple advertising channels is like herding cats. Some are laser-focused on their own (often inscrutable) agenda, others are ambling off absent-mindedly, while still others are flitting from shiny object to shiny object.
This is the lot of many modern marketers. Digital advertising requires marketers to think in cross-channel terms, but the solutions provided so far haven’t made it any easier to do so (and often complicate things further).
Let’s figure out why.
Why cross-channel advertising is a necessity.
Cross-channel advertising, as most define it, is just advertising. Most think of it as utilizing multiple channels in your media mix. They often say it’s the same as multi-channel marketing or omni-channel marketing.
But, by this definition (as any “mad man” would tell you), advertisers have been doing cross-channel advertising since the advent of radio (and even earlier). If you had a campaign that employed TV, radio, and print, you’re doing what some define today as “cross-channel advertising.”
The distinction we make is that true cross-channel advertising is aligning every channel towards one objective. This requires you to tap into the unique strengths of each channel.
The thing is, there are a lot of channels these days. And each of these channels introduce nuances, challenges and opportunities media teams have to navigate. Not to mention, developments in programmatic technology has made all this happen faster and faster.
As Shane breaks down in a recent video, this means using tactics that don’t directly correlate with the most obvious KPI. For instance, if your goal is driving more conversions, awareness tactics can be incredibly effective in the long run, despite seeming like a costs sink at first.
True cross-channel advertising is recognizing this and using all the applicable channels at your disposal to drive conversions (or whatever your objective is). If you don’t do this a couple things will happen.
You’ll Waste Money
We hear this story all the time: we had a channel running without the right creative/audience/etc. for a couple weeks and wasted a ton of money. This common error is a direct result of not adequately executing a true cross-channel campaign.
You won’t take into account each channel and intentionally lay out strategy across all of them. But that’s OK. As we’ll get into below, it’s not your fault.
You’ll Burn Out
What advertisers want (and need) of digital advertising is the marketing holy grail: to connect with the right person in the right place at the right time with the right message.
And this requires one thing: to be where your audience is. To achieve this without a true cross-channel approach, your team will be doing a ton of grunt work to make it all happen.
You Won’t Fulfill Your Objective
Following the above example from Shane, if you don’t run awareness to drive conversions, you won’t drive as many conversions. You’re missing huge opportunities to fulfill your ultimate objective by siloing your channels.
So, you need to use cross-channel advertising, in the sense of utilizing each channel for its unique strengths to achieve one central objective. Unfortunately, doing so is much easier said than done.
Why cross-channel advertising is difficult.
Put simply, it’s hard to know what’s happening with your campaigns at any given time. Differing campaign architectures, ad tech stacks, team structures, etc. all contribute to a confusing, extremely siloed system for managing your advertising.
Here are a few of the biggest culprits that make true cross-channel advertising difficult.
Facebook and Google (and soon, Amazon) have built self-contained ecosystems that incentivize using their technology to the exclusion of others, also known as walled gardens. In other words, Google want you to only use Google technology and generally won’t play nice with Facebook or third parties.
They’ve got their own (often inscrutable) agenda, algorithms and black boxes that few understand but many adhere to out of necessity.
When these walled gardens control the majority of a channel (Google with Paid Search and Display and Facebook with Paid Social) it’s super difficult to get it to work in line with other channels.
A perfect example of the advertising industry’s fragmentation is G2Crowd’s Cross-Channel Advertising Software category. Most of these only specialize in a few channels. If they were to do every channel, they’d be spread too thin to do anything of worth.
So, you need solutions for the solutions for unifying all your channels. You have to hop in and out of platforms trying to understand all of what’s happening and somehow figure out a way to bring it all together.
The result of this fragmentation is often a lack of control over individual channels and a “set it and forget it” kind of attitude. You might launch a campaign through certain channels, but because the industry is so fragmented you have to let them amble where they will and try to make sense of it later.
Another big issue is the shiny object problem. To remain competitive, channels and platforms develop new capabilities, ad units and other bells and whistles.
Examples in recent years include big shifts in blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), but also include things like Facebook’s big pivot to video content or Pinterest testing out conversion tools.
While many of these are legitimately powerful tools (as Marty, one of our data scientists, outlined in his article Advertising AI Isn’t What You Think It Is), they can cause more harm than good. In Facebook’s case with the video pivot, they heavily incentivized video content to the arguable detriment of other ad units. This has a very real impact on all ads run through the Paid Social channel.
This can lead to channels being distracted by new features that may not have a huge impact and may even hurt performance in the long run. In these situations, you’re better off doing some A/B testing to see what works. But that’s near impossible with the tools the industry has historically provided.
The result of all these is that media teams never have a good grip on what’s happening in each of their channels, let alone how they work together. Cross-channel advertising is not possible in such circumstances.
How cross-channel advertising can be easier.
The answer to all of these issues is one thing: unification. It starts with a better media plans using tools specifically designed from the ground up for complex, cross-channel campaigns.
Next, you need to connect all your data sources, channels, platforms and everything else into one location.
This exactly what LumenAd’s Connect Feature Set is designed to do. It’s marketers’ toolkit to bring all channels together to execute true cross-channel advertising campaigns.
In the coming week or so, we’ll explain exactly how the Connect Feature Set makes true cross-channel advertising campaigns possible. Schedule a demo now if you don’t want to wait.
Subscribe to Impressions
Get the latest news, tips, tricks and best practices delivered to your inbox.
Digital advertising in 2019 started out with a bang! The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently published its 2019 half-year report on internet ad revenue, reporting the strongest opening six months in digital advertising’s history. So, what do their findings...
The amount of time you put into reporting isn’t worth it. A report should be a receipt — or snapshot — of your campaign effort, not the bulk of it. Unfortunately, reporting is a huge burden for most of the media and data/analytics teams we talk to. One quote we heard...
It’s no secret that “transparency” is one of advertising’s biggest buzzwords this year. It’s right up there with AI, ABM, Big Data, etc. At LumenAd, we speak about transparency all the time because it’s integral to our operation, but we don’t like to throw around...
When we swap industry horror stories, one of the most common ones we hear is the sinking realization that something went wrong with the campaign weeks ago and the consequences are just now rearing their heads. Maybe pacing for one channel was a smidge off and two...
If you’re short on time, give Shane’s video a watch. He’s LumenAd’s VP of Client Services and covers the broad strokes of what’s here in this article. When it comes to improving the performance of your campaigns, one quote sums it all up: Fortune Favors the...
In 2013, IBM reported that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. Which sounds cool, but the truth is there isn’t much you can do with that number — our brains simply aren’t set up to ingest one that big. But that got us thinking: How much data is...