How to Win the Attention Wars by Converging Creative and Media

The media landscape is one big battle for consumer attention. The winners are the companies that get their creative, media, technology and data teams to work together to eliminate points of friction and create the kinds of seamless experiences that consumers pay attention to.

Jeff Nicholson, VaynerMedia

To learn more about what it takes for creatives (like me) to partner with media and data teams, I sat down with Jeff Nicholson, chief media officer at VaynerMedia, a Teads partner, where he oversees global media investments. Jeff is also CEO of Tracer, a marketing data aggregation and reporting platform incubated under the Vayner X platform. We wanted to see what is involved in creating this kind of ultimate partnership

Coca: What’s the first step in forging relationships between media, technology and data?

Jeff: The first thing we need to consider is human motivation. No one has ever bought a sweater because an ad was served to them well. What drives people to purchase is the way a brand’s creative makes them feel—not where or how it was served.

Our industry often forgets how important creative is in guaranteeing media effectiveness. But it’s not only about shiny ideas—you have to take into account where the ad is served. That’s why I recommend all advertiser partners start optimizing their hero video campaign assets on their mobile device because that’s where their audience is going to watch it. From a media perspective, how would you leverage convergence to gain customer attention?

Think about it like this: If a consumer searches the phrase “Buy a Jeep Wrangler,” there are two ways you can leverage the data for targeting. The first is on the search intent by using keywords. In this case, BMW or some other SUV manufacturer can disrupt my query with a campaign that’s relevant to the original intent of the search. The second way is to target based on sociodemographic data like gender, age group or household income. Hypothetically a vitamin company could come in and use the fact that the consumer was male and target him for a post-workout protein supplement. But the ad wouldn’t capture that consumer’s attention because it’s not relevant to the original intent of the search.

"No one has ever bought a sweater because an ad was served to them well."

Moving on, what are examples of brands that have effectively converged technology and creativity?

At the macro level, brands should look for ways to create personal, meaningful connections with their customers. For example, Delta used to have a customer service line but even as a preferred customer, you would wait for 25 minutes or more to talk to a human. To turn the experience into a positive one, the brand integrated a chatbot that texts you when an agent becomes available. They also push alerts during your travel journey to let you know where the nearest lounge is or if your flight is on time. The experience uses technology to understand who and where the customer is and then seamlessly serve the right message at the right time.

That’s true. When you create those human connections, consumers will associate your brand with positive experiences and be more receptive to creative in the future. Advertising can also add value by delivering a service. Starbucks is a good example of this.

I love the Starbucks app. It knows everything about the consumer from what kind of coffee they drink, to what time they drink coffee to how much they spend each month. It’s then able to take that information to create and deliver highly relevant advertising experiences. The app has become one of the largest payment apps in the world. Do they serve coffee? You could argue they are actually serving up convenience.

Showing that type of customer appreciation is vital to creating positive experiences. With a detailed record of what their customers buy, the brand can serve small wins like free cups of coffee. This makes it much harder for a Starbucks drinker to venture to a Coffee Bean. What are other ways brands can leverage data to show appreciation for their customers?

I love this question. I firmly believe that innovation shouldn’t be done for the sake of innovation but be aligned to the business itself. Going back to the Delta customer service example, they turned what was once a terrible customer experience into something positive by using a chatbot to give the customer time back. Brands should go forth and innovate to make consumers’ lives better—not just to chase the newest concept or technology.

That is so true and unfortunately a common mistake. Technology should serve the objective of a brand, not the other way around. The latest shiny format or technology might be exciting at first, but at the end of the day, the only thing that moves the needle is ideas that align with your strategy. Another common mistake advertisers make is retargeting consumers after they’ve made a purchase when they should really just be saying thank you.

Absolutely. I bought a car recently and my purchase window for making the decision was less than two weeks. I had decided to buy, considered, researched and made my purchase within 10 days. But because we are told the auto purchase path is months, I was besieged with ads for the car I had just bought for weeks after the purchase.

The brand could have used the opportunity to thank me or tell me about my service options—anything besides retargeting me for the car I just bought. This is an example of a lack of convergence, and a reason why I am so passionate about the idea of media, data, tech and creative coming together to create deep connections between brands and their consumers.