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How to stand out from the adtech crowd

online advertising
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/mtkang)

It can be tough to get your message heard in adtech. As a marketer you’re trying to present highly complex technologies that evolve at a very fast rate and often leave journalists scratching their heads. In an advertising industry that has long struggled to address issues around trust, effectiveness and transparency, a lack of clarity can result in a misunderstanding of your product’s benefits and risk your company being seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

These issues are nothing new but they are now compounded by a sharp reduction in ad spend that is unlikely to recover anytime soon. There is more competition among vendors to be heard. Meanwhile, key events that have long been a big part of go-to-market strategies, such as DMEXCO, have either been cancelled or gone virtual. All kinds of plans have had to be re-assessed.

With a lack of face-to-face interactions at the moment, it’s important to make the most of the communications methods that are available. But with every company thinking the same thing, what can you do to keep ahead? Here are my top four tips for standing out from the adtech crowd.

Make sure that journalists understand what you do

Remember that very few editors will say they don’t understand something. They don’t want to look stupid. The first you know about a misunderstanding in a briefing may be when an article is published that explains your technology in the wrong way or misses its key benefit. Worse still, you may not get any coverage at all even though you have a good product. You must choose a spokesperson for briefings that is able to translate what you do in language that is easy to understand and ensure they are well prepared.

Put yourself in an editor or analyst’s shoes. They speak to other adtech vendors and potential customers of yours every day. They have an expert knowledge of the industry you’re in. You must be able to speak to that wider view and explain why your company and its products matter. They know what the problems in the market are and will be looking for how your company addresses them.

With advertising technology as complex as it is, you’ll probably need more than a briefing or two to bring the editor up-to-speed. It’s worth investing the time needed to make sure they understand what your products do and how they solve industry issues, especially if you’ve not engaged the editor before. Giving them a couple of hours with a spokesperson rather than a short briefing could have long term benefits.

It sounds so simple but many vendors are missing out on opportunities to speak to a wider audience. Investing more time in relationships, especially at the start, could give you a crucial advantage over the long term.

Be part of the industry conversation

Companies can benefit hugely if they step back from their products and address industry issues, not least because of the companies they’ll position themselves beside by doing so. If you’re a new entrant to the market you can place yourselves alongside established players who have spent years building up their brand.

It’s worth remembering the issues that matter to the industry matter to your customers, too. By taking a vocal position on industry issues you can elevate your brand above the usual noise and ensure that customers think of you as a provider of solutions to their problems. Did I mention that leading journalists, analysts and industry commentators speak to potential customers of yours every day? Those are two-way conversations and there is huge value in having independent industry figures talking about the topics that are favorable to your cause.

Keep your company front of mind

Quite often you may be asking customers to make a change in their workflow to bring your technology in, and this process can take time – a few years in some cases. You need to ensure sales prospects are keeping you in mind throughout this process.

Building effective two-way relationships with trusted industry figures is an important factor in maintaining your company’s profile throughout a long sales cycle. Key messaging will change over that time as industry issues change, new competitors emerge and technologies evolve. It’s important to maintain your levels of communication to remind your sales contacts that you remain a leader in the industry.

Once you have leads in your database there are owned opportunities to take advantage of, too. A well-planned content strategy centered around your own blog and mailers can create a platform for your own thought leaders, industry commentators, or guest writers from partner companies or customers. It takes a lot of work to execute well but there’s a fantastic opportunity to create a digital timeline of events and directly link your marketing activity to sales. This is a great thing to be able to present to your CEO.

At the same time it’s important not to lose sight of the activities that got you noticed in the first place. Owned and earned media should go hand-in-hand.

Make the most of social media

With a lack of face-to-face meetings at the moment, social media offers a valuable route to connecting your sales team with new customers. Are your sales people active on social? Are they being seen by the right people and are they sending out the right messages?

You should approach social media platforms in a similar way to how you would approach the management of your own blog. Implement a content strategy that supports your sales team and provides them with the content they need to drive conversations forward from one week to the next.

The world of adtech is facing a rocky road ahead at the moment but marketers have plenty of opportunities to succeed. With the right messages delivered to the right audience, you can bring your brand and your products closer to the people that matter and stand out from the adtech crowd. These are challenging times but there is plenty of cause to be optimistic as you plan for the year ahead.

Paul Davies, adtech specialist, Platform Communications

Paul is a specialist in online video and advertising technology with Platform Communications. He previously led marketing for an adtech provider, helping them grow from niche player to global leader.