I love predictability. Every morning, before I drive to work, I turn on Waze.
I know the road, but I want to get an ETA. I want to plan and predict whether I’ll be delayed because of traffic jams and if I’ll make my morning meetings on time.
Apps like Waze certainly help, but they only solve for the planning piece. I’m left with predictability, sure — but my time in the car is still fully consumed…with driving. What’s the next level? A smart, self-driving car. I want to tell my car where I want to go, set constraints such as toll road avoidance and let it take me there — that simple. I want to have that peace of mind, knowing that the car will take me, safely, to my destination and in the meantime, I can use my commute for the things that really matter, like reading that memo buried at the bottom of my inbox, or replying to important emails.
While certainly on the horizon, autonomous vehicles are not anywhere near adoption at critical mass. But the combined realities of constrained time, attention-demanding manual tasks and limited visibility are universal, well beyond mobility. For marketers, they’re as applicable at work as during the commute to get there.
At Skai, our clients describe their needs and expectations similar to those of my fantasy commute. We take this feedback seriously, and as a result — while we may be years away from transportation utopia — self-driving optimization solutions are available to them today.
Our marketers’ needs tend to surface some common themes:
- Predictability: The ability to predict the return-on-investment. For example, my monthly budget is $5000. If I invest it in a certain channel, what will my ROI be? And if I manage to secure $1000 more, how will that impact my return? Our clients are constantly facing these questions, which require both time and guesswork to solve. The outcome is hit or miss, and limited to the knowledge and data available to them. And just like road conditions, these change constantly, making it increasingly difficult to predict for future success, even using the same recipe as before.
- Efficiency. Everyone wants to do more with less. They want to work smarter, not harder. But the reality of heavily manual inputs and adjustments to digital marketing programs make scale increasingly difficult for small teams. They would like to be able to grow their business with the same team size and get the best performance.
- Manually editing. Tedious and error-prone edits to hundreds and thousands of keywords against changing bids and modifiers can be very time consuming and still fall short. And while auto-bidding solutions have improved, staying competitive at the bidding level is no longer enough. Today, with the growing amount of investment opportunities across new ad formats, devices, and channels, marketers need solutions that will be highly flexible, broad-reaching and responsive across publishers and accounts in order to be efficient. They expect their solutions to auto-distribute the budget among campaigns according to constantly changing potential returns and to set bids in a way that will yield optimal results — freeing them up to focus on defining their audience strategy or improving creatives.
- Visibility. Just as a navigation app can offer an otherwise unavailable peek into traffic conditions, our clients want marketing tech that can monitor and communicate their plan’s progress against the goal, answering questions like: Are we on track? Are we meeting the constraints? Will we get there with the original plan? And since no one can predict the future, marketers want their optimization solution to react on a dime to ever-changing market dynamics. They expect their optimization solution to notify them about any necessary change in course with visibility into the impact to their original goals, suggest a new plan and execute it.
- Control. Sometimes, such as during holiday season when objectives and budgets may vary from the norm, our clients prefer to get back in the driver’s seat. They want to be able to set their daily KPI constraints and budget goals, allowing the solution to control daily bids but be able to adjust it as they see fit. The right balance between autonomous tech and manned control can vary day-to-day and marketer-to-marketer. But getting it right can make or break a team’s success. Today’s solutions need to be nimble enough to turn over the steering wheel as needed without slowing down the car or veering off the road.
Over the past year, I had the opportunity to lead the development of Skai Budget Manager, our ultra-smart, self-driving optimization solution. With input from over 10 years’ experience developing optimization capabilities for the Skai platform and countless discussions with our clients, we aimed to develop a solution based on the latest advancements in machine learning, that’s both powerful and intuitive to use. The results are game-changing. Budget Manager empowers advertisers to plan, execute, and monitor their marketing activity across publishers and business goals, confident that they’ll reach their goals in the most optimal way. After launching in January, it has been humbling to see the excitement around Budget Manager as more and more clients put it to the test. Adoption is growing 30% month over month, and impressed advertisers are moving most if not all of their marketing budgets under its control. If you’re interested in going deeper, you can read about StyleBop’s success in expanding marketing activity and reaching specific ROI targets with Budget Manager.
With Budget Manager making life easier and moving our marketing so instantly into the future, maybe we’ll have more patience sitting in that traffic jam on the way home, eyes on the road ahead, hands at 10 and 2. Maybe?
To learn more about Skai’s optimization solutions contact us today.