now reading
  • 1 Embracing the unknown. Seven steps for exploring emerging advertising channels.
next up

Embracing the unknown.

Seven steps for exploring emerging advertising channels.

What began as a typical day brought quite a surprise to unsuspecting commuters in London. As they sat waiting for their bus, one of England’s most popular athletes suddenly beckoned to them from another transit stop. He waved as he popped a few snacks into his mouth, then held up a sign that read, “Tweet for a free bag.” 

A bit baffled, most of the onlookers did. And he responded — by taking out his phone, reading the tweet, and dispensing a bag through the glass. He even pointed out that they were about to miss their bus. 

It was all part of an innovative digital out-of-home campaign by Walkers, a British snack food manufacturer. The company converted a bus shelter into a Twitter-activated vending machine that used lifelike video and dispensed real bags of chips to those who engaged.  

That’s the beauty of today’s emerging channels. They’re clearing a path for advertisers to venture into all new territory to create experiences that were impossible just a few years ago. And while embracing the unknown can be a bit daunting, it can be very rewarding. 

See how Walkers did it.

The quest for more engaging experiences. 

Today’s emerging channels — like over-the-top TV (OTT TV), digital audio, and digital out-of-home (DOOH) — are allowing advertisers to deliver more personalized, more interactive, and more engaging campaigns. And they’re making real inroads, garnering a larger share of ad budgets.   

Other promising channels like voice (think Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant), augmented reality, and navigation apps aren’t far behind. The reason is simple. Consumers want to access and interact with content that’s more relevant — from anywhere, at any time, and on their terms.

Today’s top emerging channels.

•    Over-the-top TV (Connected, addressable, data-driven TV)
•    Digital audio (Streaming music, podcasts, internet radio)
•    Digital out-of-home (Digital billboards, transit, elevators, etc.)

“The exciting thing is that these new channels are more consumer-driven,” says Hosana Thomas, product marketing manager for media and advertising solutions, Adobe Advertising Cloud. “We’re not just focusing on what’s best for advertisers now, but what’s most engaging for consumers.”  

The fact is, consumers want to watch TV anywhere, anytime, untethered from a static content provider. They want to stream their favorite music or tune into podcasts the same way — in the gym, in the garden, on their commute. And they want to be surprised and delighted by engaging out-of-home experiences. They’re willing to opt in for more personalized messaging too, especially when it leads to offers that come in the right moment. Like the Walkers example we mentioned earlier.

Channel milestone:
SoundCloud delivers for Deliveroo. 

Digital audio is allowing advertisers more options for reaching their audience. Pandora now offers sequential spots, providing more time to tell a story and keep listeners engaged. Programmatic, dynamic audio is allowing advertisers to use location, day of the week, and time of day to deliver a more in-the-moment experience.  A great example is this spot for Deliveroo, which ran on Tuesday mornings for listeners in targeted suburbs.

Seven steps to guide your journey.

The promise of these channels is enticing, but with so many new options, and even more on the horizon, it’s hard to know which ones to consider for your advertising strategy. To navigate the jungle of new choices, you have to map out your strategy with very clear goals.  

“Emerging media is a space where everyone has equal footing and there is so much to learn. Marketers are gathering data and building playbooks from scratch,” says Sid Bhatia, product marketing manager for emerging channels, Adobe Advertising Cloud.  

These seven steps can help you successfully evaluate, test, and integrate an emerging channel into your cross-channel mix. Every business is in a different place and channels are emerging all the time. But this fundamental guide will give you a foundation for adding a new channel to your advertising strategy.

Step 1: Scout the lay of the land. 

Before venturing out, assess the emerging channel, including its strengths and limitations. Ask yourself the following questions: 

•    Who is the audience?
•    What’s the penetration?
•    What mood or behavior does it create?
•    What’s the use case for it?

Try to understand why audiences are using this channel from a content consumption point of view. For example, people choose connected TV because they want to cut the cord. And they’re interacting with voice speakers to listen on their own schedule.

Step 2: Study the habits and lifestyles of the audience. 

Next, view the new channel’s audience penetration through the lens of your core audience — looking beyond demographics and media usage. And research your target audience’s habits and preferences with the channel.  

Consider the type of consumer you want to reach, too. Are you going after opportunists looking for deals? Category connoisseurs such as wine or car enthusiasts? Brand loyalists? Know exactly who you’re trying to attract and make sure the channel is a good fit for them. 

There must be enough intersection points to warrant adding the channel. While Pandora or Spotify might be considered appealing to some advertisers, if they’re not reaching your core audience or if your message would be out of place, you should look elsewhere.  

By doing your homework, you can find where you have the most overlap between your audience and a new channel’s audience — and that’s where you’ll find the most success.

Step 3: Ensure the path leads to your business goals.

Once you understand the channel’s audience and reach, determine if it supports your business objectives. Thomas explains that you have to assess each channel independently for its ability to help you achieve your goals. “For example, if you’re looking at digital audio, you have to understand what the channel does and what value it adds. If your goal is to reach more people or drive conversions, there has to be an opportunity there,” she says. 

Consider the Adidas Neo campaign. The goal was to build a larger brand loyalist following among younger, trendsetting audiences. They ran an interactive video campaign on Snapchat, inviting viewers to design their next Neo collection. The choice was perfect. Snapchat is a popular messaging platform among teens, with filters, tools, and augmented reality lenses for manipulating their videos and photos — which Adidas tapped into.

Channel milestone:
Adidas Neo video turns consumers into collaborators. 

The Adidas interactive video campaign on Snapchat allowed viewers to screen grab the white outfits featured in the video, and using the app’s doodle tool, create and submit new designs. They could then enter them to win their own fashion collection — all from within the app. The campaign resulted in 400 design submissions in just a few weeks and a 1,000 percent increase in Snapchat followers.

Step 4: 
Check that the channel maps back to your brand

Any channel you select will be a reflection of your brand, so be sensitive to how this new channel might impact it. Consider the following when determining if it’s a good fit for your brand: 

•    The context (content, format, mindset) of where your ads will appear 
•    How the audience consumes organic content on the channel 
•    The type of audience venturing into the channel 
•    The specific publisher and ad placements 
•    Opportunities for highly targeted campaigns 
•    What is possible creatively 

In other words, completely rethink your creative and messaging in terms of the experience your audience will have with the channel. For example, while it’s possible to run an ad in a video game, where players have to watch the ad to unlock items they need, Unilever went one step further and turned their ad for Axe body spray into a game. By allowing viewers to control the action with the arrow keys on their TV remotes, the company tapped into the excitement of video gaming. Quite successfully, too. The ad was shown to 60 million DirectTV and Dish Network viewers, and in just a few weeks, 3.5 million people watched the video and spent an average of five minutes playing with the ad. 

Think about format and length, too. Now that Pandora has sequential spots, and shorter 4-10 second formats dynamically assembled for different listeners, make sure you can produce that type of creative before adding it to your mix. 

Channel milestone:
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group taps into mind-set.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group used programmatic audio-video advertising for their “Relax Harder” campaign. It was specifically programmed to run in Spotify’s “Chill” playlists. 


You also have to understand the differences between channels. A display ad campaign that you’re running programmatically across the web will probably not translate effectively for digital out-of-home.  Be prepared to design your creative specifically for each channel.

Step 5: Establish trail markers to measure success.

One of the biggest challenges with an emerging channel is measuring performance. Common performance metrics may apply, there could be new metrics to consider, and there are different ways to interpret the data. For example, while connected TV (CTV) shares some similarities with online video, CTV is measured by how many households tune in, whereas online video is measured by viewability and completion rates.  

You also have to understand the nuances of consumption. Consider digital out-of-home. Because it is a one-to-many medium, it has historically been challenging to measure. But thanks to the rise of mobile location data, there are several ways to measure impact on upper-funnel metrics such as unaided brand recall and purchase intent, as well as lower-funnel metrics like foot traffic and in some cases even sales lift. 

“Approaching a new channel such as OOH with a clean slate allows you to focus on metrics that make sense for the medium and tie back to your ultimate goals, rather than being restricted by KPIs built for a different channel,” explains Chris Allison from Vistar Media, a programmatic technology company for digital out-of-home and Adobe partner. “In the case of OOH, that might be looking at foot traffic instead of clicks, but the end result is understanding the impact of your campaign on real-world consumer behavior, and continuing to optimize based on those insights,” he adds.  

Podcasts are another challenging format. Just because people download one, doesn’t mean they actually listened to it. However, research suggests people listen through entire episodes, including ads. 

The bottom line is that you can’t always test a new channel the same way you’d test another — even if they share the same goal. You may need to experiment, adjust your expectations, and allow some leeway. Look beyond KPIs and individual metrics for the channel as well, focusing first on how the channel contributes to your goals, and also what it does for your cross-channel impact. 

Recommendations for measuring a new channel: 

•    Understand the nuances of the channel. 
•    Get insight from the leading partners about the best way to measure it. 
•    Run tests using the metrics on your incumbent channel so you can compare. 
•    Be open to measuring more metrics alongside it. 
•    Tie it all back to your business goals.

Channel milestone:
How a ride-sharing service measured the number of new users they picked up.

A ride-sharing service wanted to measure the impact of digital audio to help drive lift across channels. Their campaign used video, native, and programmatic audio through Spotify. 

A top KPI for video is to increase brand-messaging reach to new users. So the company measured cost per unique user on both video and the new audio channel and compared results. Because audio is primarily mobile, they also measured cross-device unique users, social media attribution, and recall through Adobe Advertising Cloud survey tools. The results showed that 93 percent of audio engagers were unique to Spotify, proving digital audio was a good channel for achieving their business goals.

Step 6:
Fund your exploration.

It’s now time to allocate budget and integrate the emerging channel into your multi-channel mix. Surveys show that adoption of emerging channels is growing, and brands are right there with them — moving more and more of their ad dollars. An April 2018 eMarketer report predicts that nearly 80 percent of digital video ad dollars will go to programmatic channels in 2020. They also cite a Magna study that predicts that ad spending for traditional radio will drop by $2 billion from 2016 to 2021.  


Digital Out of the home

Over the Top TV

While there’s no silver bullet for determining the right amount to budget, let your business goals and specific channel goals guide you. Here are some ways to get started: 

•    Research what other successful companies are doing by following advertising and digital marketing sites and see if some of it can work for you.  
•    Look to see if any of your channels are showing signs of diminishing returns and consider moving a portion of that budget into an emerging channel.  
•    See if budget is available from brand awareness campaigns. 
•    Earmark a percentage of your budget for a particular strategy, such as branding or performance, and move it to the new channel. 

Be sure to think about how all of your channels can work together. According to the third annual Video Over Internet survey, as reported by The Huffington Post, 77 percent of consumers said they regularly use their computer while watching television. Could there be a search campaign running while your TV spot is? Let’s say you ran a campaign on Sling TV during the World Cup. You could analyze how many people searched for your product or brand during that time. In fact, 72 percent of brands and 88 percent of agencies use TV audience information to optimize or personalize ads in search engine marketing, according to another independent survey of over 1,000 U.S. TV buyers and executives released by Adobe.

You should also consider minimum ad spends and publisher opportunities available as you formulate your budget plan. And watch for powerful uses cases to support it.

Step 7: Check your bearings. 

Because emerging channels are so new, it’s important to test and optimize regularly, adjusting your channel mix where necessary.  Below are some tips to guide you:

•    Test a message that performed well in a different channel to see if it’s a good fit here.  
•    Collaborate with publishers because they’re invested in your success and can often give you guidance.  
•    Once you know a channel is effective, consider moving money from less effective channels to programmatic emerging channels.  
•    See if there’s a case for requesting additional budget.  
•    Work with your creative team or agency to ensure creative is updated, suitable, and refreshed periodically. 

The key is to be patient and flexible with the new channel and with your entire marketing mix. But the result is worth the effort. You’re likely to tap into new audiences. You could pull ahead of your competition who might be watching from the sidelines, waiting for others to pave the way.  And your efforts could even give you the spotlight that you deserve in your organization, setting you up as a trailblazer worth following. 

Let technology take you to new places.

As you add more channels, be careful that you don’t create a disjointed brand experience. That can happen with siloed campaigns, technology, and reporting.  

Fortunately, there are multiple technology solutions that can help you ensure a connected experience — and streamline the process as well. Finding the right one will be central to channel ad effectiveness and management. This is true whether you’re simply managing the channels you have already or bringing a new channel into your mix. Regardless of what emerging channel you’re testing or will eventually include, below is the essential technology stack for modern advertising. You may already be using some or even all of these, but it’s important for them to work together.

Demand-side platforms (DSPs). A DSP automates media buying across multiple sources. When you have a DSP that combines your media planning tools and cross-channel buying capabilities into a single, unified platform, you’ll have a unified view of your audience across the entire customer journey and one place for comprehensive measurement.  

Data management platforms (DMPs). A DMP aggregates all of your first- and third-party data to better define your audiences and reveal their journeys with your brand. You can use this intelligence to build unique audience profiles to deliver highly targeted, personalized experiences. 

Analytics. You can gather all kinds of data, but without a good analytics solution, the insights will remain buried deep within it. It’s important to understand insights about your audience’s behaviors, customer journeys, and more. Powerful attribution can help you understand each conversion and predictive analytics can reveal hidden opportunities.

Follow the call for connection.

Consumers are connecting with content in all kinds of new ways these days, which opens up just as many new possibilities for ways to reach them. But you can’t just choose an emerging channel and expect success. It has to fit your business goals, your audience, and your messaging — allowing you to create experiences that are deeply personal and connect on an emotional level. When a channel can do this, the potential for highly targeted and innovative campaigns is immense.

Channel milestone:
Dell watches unique users climb to new heights.

To celebrate the launch of Dell’s new Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop, the company timed their campaign to the release of the new movie, Spiderman: Homecoming, and New York City’s 4th of July crowds with Spidey Crawl — an immersive, larger-than-life video game powered by Dell’s new gaming console.   

Visitors to Times Square could play against each other, using their phones to make Spiderman crawl up one of the huge digital display boards. It was fun, engaging, and effective. The game attracted 3,137 non-unique total game players, who played 1,084 games and earned more than 45 million DOOH impressions and 40 million impressions via PR efforts. Take a look at how they did it.

Pretty soon, those kinds of engaging experiences will be everywhere — in outdoor, video, audio, or in other emerging channels. It all comes down to creating great experiences for your customers. And that means delivering experiences that stand out, are highly targeted, and connect with your customers in a meaningful way. 

Go with an experienced guide.

Adobe Advertising Cloud can help you tackle the complexities of adding a new channel to your mix, testing it, and tracking its effectiveness. Our end-to-end, independent platform unifies first-second-, and third-party data, helping you manage your advertising across all channels — traditional and digital, online and offline — to connect with your customers in meaningful ways.  Watch our Adobe Advertising Cloud video to learn more.


“77 Percent of People Use Their Computers While Watching TV: Survey,” Huffington Post, April 8, 2013.

Adidas Neo Snapchat, #myneolabel” YouTube video, 2:00, posted by Marketing Factory, September 7, 2017.

Dell Spiderman Scramble: Interactive DOOH Game,” Kinetic.

Digital to Account for 40% of Out-of-Home Ad Spending in 2015,” eMarketer, October 15, 2015.

George Slefo, “Ad Tech Streams Into Audio”, AdAge, April 16, 2018.

Harry Gold, “Interactive TV Ads: Real-Life Examples,”, January 19, 2010.

Jasmine Enberg, “Hey Alexa, Who’s Using Smart Speakers?”, eMarketer, May 29, 2018.

Lauren Fisher, “US Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast 2018,” eMarketer, April 5, 2018.

OTT Streaming in the Limelight: Four Trends and Predictions for the Media Industry,” ATKearney.

Rahul Kumar and Supradip Baul, “Global DOOH Market by Format Type, Application Type and End User Type: Global Opportunities: Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2017–2023,” Allied Market Research, 2018.

Todd Gordon, “Adobe Advertising Cloud Advances Personalization of TV Advertising with Industry-Firsts,” Adobe Blog, September 26, 2018.

US Audio Ad Spending, by Segment, 2016, 2017 & 2021,” Magna, reported by eMarketer.