Survey: Time is the biggest barrier to personalizing marketing messages

Discussion
Oct 31, 2018

MarketingCharts staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

More than half of marketers (59 percent), advertisers (52 percent) and brand creatives (53 percent) find it difficult to personalize content at scale. And while agency creatives are a little more confident, a new survey from Adobe indicates that fewer than half of respondents overall believe that their company’s content personalization is very extensive.

What’s holding them back? Time is easily the biggest impediment. Presented with nine barriers to content and digital ad creative personalization and asked to rank their top three, fully one-third pointed to the time to create and iterate as their number one barrier. One-fifth of respondents indicated that time was their second- or third-ranked barrier, such that a majority overall put it in their top three.

It’s easy to understand why time would be a key barrier to personalization at scale when considering other results from the survey. On average, respondents estimated that it takes 17 hours to create a single piece of short-form content or ad format, with brand creatives on the low end of that spectrum (14 hours) and agency creatives on the high end (22 hours).

Personalizing the content requires creating variations, which nine in 10 respondents are doing. Most commonly, they’re creating variations to target different segments of the market (59 percent), but many also create variations for different digital channels (49 percent) and for different campaigns (42 percent).

All told, respondents reported that it takes them 12 days, on average, to get a single piece of content to market.

The analysts note that creatives, marketers and advertisers feel that content quality is more important than both personalization and cost, such that they’re “not willing to sacrifice quality for speed and volume.” But while those priorities seem laudable, cost is a hindrance: half of the respondents ranked the cost of creation and iteration as a top three barrier to personalizing content and digital ad creative.

Access to artificial intelligence, often touted as the tool to bring personalized content at scale, came in as the least significant barrier.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see long-term challenges personalizing advertising content at scale? Are there factors beyond access to AI and machine-learning capabilities that are holding back delivering personalized customer experiences?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"There has to be some rationality and strategy applied first, before you can expect personalization to really pay off. AI can only do so much."
"I tend to agree with marketers who believe that the quality of an ad is more critical than personalizing it."
"There are proven tools available in the marketplace that more than overcome any lack of time for the staff to manage."

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6 Comments on "Survey: Time is the biggest barrier to personalizing marketing messages"


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Art Suriano
Guest
As technology gets better so will opportunities for faster personalization. However, I tend to agree with marketers who believe that the quality of an ad is more critical than personalizing it. There is nothing more infuriating than receiving something no doubt produced through AI and the name or other information is wrong. That tells me the company didn’t care enough about me to have my information correct. So first, focus on the right message and make sure it’s worth someone’s time to look at it. If you feel you can easily personalize it without risk of errors than go for it. But I don’t see the significance of much more than that. We all get those ads based on something we recently purchased or viewed online, but how many times does that drive us to make another purchase? If we saw something and chose not to buy it, it’s doubtful a reminder ad showing us something we didn’t buy is going to change our minds. Also, just because I bought an item doesn’t mean I… Read more »
Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Twelve days is a long time, leading me to believe this article speaks to a form of macro-personalization. Meaning that creatives aspire to express the “wow” factor of the brand rather than cater to an individual or even a segment. Top-level macro personalization/brand identification requires constant, lively creative inputs, personalized to the brand’s identity, to inspire the brand’s customer base.
Translating 3-D human creative insights into macro advertising content is a ways off for AI and machine learning. The human creative contribution of brand look and feel is difficult to automate season after season.

Nikki Baird
BrainTrust
I think there’s a lot to parse through in answering this question. The most important question is, at what level do you actually need to personalize? Is it the image, the message? Those are the hardest ones. But you can also create a sense of personalization by looking at the time of day the communication is sent, which channel is used, things like that. AI can easily handle the latter. I think it still struggles with the former. And then the next most important question is, how much does it really need to be personalized? More often than not, I think there is a library of “offers” that can be made, and it’s more about selecting the right offer for the right person. But are we really going to get down to a unique offer for every person? Probably not. Even wildly different shoppers can have very similar objectives — everybody needs to eat, for example. So there has to be some rationality and strategy applied first, before you can expect personalization to really pay… Read more »
Evan Snively
BrainTrust
Evan Snively
Director of Planning & Loyalty, Moosylvania
3 years 6 months ago

I’m wondering how to interpret the low response rate for “Lack of access to AI.” Does that mean that respondents already have access to AI (so access itself is not the problem) or just that they don’t see AI itself as something that would increase their ability to successfully roll out personalization?

Additionally, time/cost are pretty closely related (when you bill hourly) so that could even increase the prominence of that #1 barrier.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest

Today, there is no excuse for not having the capability to send real-time personalized marketing messaging to your targeted audience. There are proven tools available in the marketplace that more than overcome any lack of time for the staff to manage.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors
3 years 6 months ago

The time it takes to create promotions is a big barrier to personalizing ads. If it takes 14-22 hours to create a single piece of ad content and 12 days to get it to market, it is not feasible to create numerous versions of ads to personalize content. Creative departments and agencies need to find more agile ways to create content to effectively personalize advertising messages.

If AI can be applied to developing creative content, which may or may not be possible, advertising content could be much more nimble and personalized ad content could become a reality. Perfect here is the enemy of the good. In today’s real-time retail environment you have to personalize immediately (the good) … we need Amazon speed here, not yesterday’s Mad Men (perfect) approach.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"There has to be some rationality and strategy applied first, before you can expect personalization to really pay off. AI can only do so much."
"I tend to agree with marketers who believe that the quality of an ad is more critical than personalizing it."
"There are proven tools available in the marketplace that more than overcome any lack of time for the staff to manage."

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