Beyond Automation: Plan for events that change consumer behaviour

Craig Meikle,
Account Manager

Whether you like it or not, automation in digital advertising is coming. With it comes many benefits, such as streamlining workflow and making real time adjustments to campaigns. But if the pandemic has taught marketers anything, it is that consumer behaviour remains entirely vulnerable to real world events.

Automation alone cannot plan ahead for volatile consumer behaviour. It will always be reactive and as marketers, we should always be proactive. 

For example, an automated bidding strategy during Black Friday allows you to take advantage of changes to CPMs and purchase intent which will help drive more conversions efficiently. But what if you had looked at the event months in advance? You might have seen some opportunities to exploit the event for even greater sales performance.

You can have the best automated strategy in the world but shocks to the market caused by events like the above can only be overcome and harnessed with a human touch. Here are 5 steps to show you how to combine a human touch with automation to overcome the challenges presented by real world events:


Step 1 – Identify

Before you can do anything, you need to identify which events may affect your campaigns. Amongst the events that will have an impact are the usual suspects; Christmas and Black Friday, who’s effects can be felt across every industry. Other events such as pay day, Bank Holidays and religious holidays can also have large scale impacts. Look at your historic campaign data – can you spot any trends?


Step 2 – Understand 

How will the event impact your business? You need to look at how it will affect both your own business and your media channels. What does your data tell you tends to happen to your campaign metrics? 

  • Did the eCPM rise (a sign of increased competition on the media channel)?
  • Did your purchase conversion rate fall and drive up your cost-per-purchase (a sign of changing consumer behaviour/intent)?
  • How did your competitors react? What was their creative and ad copy? Did they discount or offer anything?

Finally, the current pandemic is unprecedented but the astute marketer will have seen changes that present challenges or opportunities that no data could offer. For example, international travel has dropped significantly. This led to many of the big travel companies pulling back significantly on their marketing spend. Therefore, “frequent traveller” audiences will have become far less competitive and might yield much cheaper CPMs and open up a whole new audience for your business.  


Step 3 – Plan

Once you have a good understanding of what the impacts are going to be, the next step is planning. As above, this needs to be happening months in advance.

Some questions you need to be asking yourself are:

  • Which events do you want to be part of? How will you ramp up (or down) spend based on your data?
  • Do you need to shift your quarterly or monthly budget around? 
  • Do you need specialised creatives or messaging for specific events? 
  • Do you need to work on your UX or website? 

If you start this process early enough, you’ll be in a fantastic position to be able to implement these changes into your campaigns ahead of schedule and maximise the opportunity that these events present themselves. 


Step 4 – Action

During the event, this is where automation becomes a vital tool. You cannot monitor your campaigns every minute of the whole of Black Friday weekend. However, all of the tools on the media platforms such as automated bidding, automated rules and bid caps can. The real time adjustments that these tools are capable of actioning mean that if the situation dramatically changes at 2am, the campaigns will be able to instantly react and adapt. Use all the tools available to you to give the best chance of success when putting into action all the planning done in Step 3. 


Step 5 – Consolidate Learnings 

After the campaigns have finished, it is absolutely vital that you set aside time to delve into the results. Once digested, the data should reveal an abundance of insights which will be incredibly useful for planning next time around.

Do you need to shift even more of your budget around? Do you need to tweak creatives or messaging even further

By taking the time to properly consolidate learnings, you are setting yourself up for success in the future. Unfortunately this process often falls by the wayside, with other campaigns coming thick and fast, but in the battle between human ingenuity and algorithms, this is the time to step up and show your worth.  

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