Reviving Consumer Connection in Digital Media

Have we lost the consumer connection in the maze of algorithms, metrics, and targeting tools? 

As a solo digital media strategist, I read a lot. It’s how I stay in the loop with what’s happening in our ever-changing industry. Gone are the days of big agency education sessions and flashy publisher presentations—I’ve got to do all the legwork myself.

The prevailing theme in much of what I read? Technology and data. It’s the mantra of modern digital media: data-driven decisions powered by cutting-edge technology. Whilst this is undeniably crucial in digital media planning, I often wonder if we are forgetting something equally as important: The consumer connection.

I can’t help but feel that we may have lost the consumer connection in the maze of algorithms, metrics, and targeting tools. It’s entirely possible that we’ve become so enamored with the precision of data and the prowess of technology that we often overlook the essence of marketing: connecting with consumers in meaningful ways.

In our relentless pursuit of the perfect data set & “letting the algorithm do it’s thing”, we’ve inadvertently lost sight of the importance of context and mindset in connecting with consumers. Sure, we can pinpoint the bulls-eye audience with surgical precision, but are we reaching them when it matters most? Are we catching them in the right frame of mind to truly resonate with our message?

Consider this scenario: a brand dedicated to aiding parents in managing their family life better. The data/tech approach would dictate targeting these parents on social media for highest reach & lowest cost per ‘fill in the gap”. Here we should also consider that we are probably reaching these parents in their rare moment of downtime when they are actively trying NOT to think about their family. Wouldn’t it be far more impactful to reach them precisely when they’re family planning, organizing their schedules, or seeking solutions to their parenting challenges?

Digital channels possess a unique capability to decipher consumer mindset like no other channel – content consumption, time of day, place of access – they all provide us with clear signals that offer invaluable insights into the consumer’s current state of mind. By also incorporating these signals into our planning, we can ensure that our messages are not only targeted, optimized to the T, but also timely and relevant.

The truth is, effective marketing isn’t just about reaching the right audience; it’s about reaching them at the right moment, in the right mindset. This is where the true magic happens—the moment when a brand’s message aligns seamlessly with a consumer’s needs or pain points.

This level of connection requires adding an extra layer to our approach to digital media planning. It requires us to expand on the use of data and technology and delve deeper into the human psyche. We can strive to understand not only who our audience is but also when and where they are most receptive to our message.

As digital media planners, it’s our responsibility to bridge the gap between technology and human connection. In a landscape saturated with data and technology, let’s not forget the human element at the heart of marketing. Let’s also understand our audience’s needs, desires, and moments of receptivity

In the end, it’s not enough to reach the right audience; we need to  reach them in the right mindset as well, and in doing so, we’ll elevate the impact of our message & all key campaign metrics.