Is It the Best We Can Do?
Marketers are gearing up to increase spending on social media advertising over the next year but they are not yet taking advantage of the transformational opportunities that digital technologies can deliver. In fact, recent reports indicate that 80 percent of industry executives plan to advertise on social channels. Other recent research predicts that mobile ad spending will increase 128 percent through 2018.
Does spending more money to do more of the same thing make it better? While the investment in mobile advertising grows, marketers still play a guessing game, and use backward-looking metrics — not exactly a game-changing strategy. But it’s the best they could do with their existing technology.
Consider recent kerfuffles at Google and Facebook about viewership metrics. Massive spending pivots on the question of whether an ad video was watched two or four seconds. It raises the question of what constitutes viewing an ad, and what should marketers be willing to pay for? Is it two, or four or eight seconds of viewing time?
When you get right down to the core of the issue – how to engage with an audience — that is not what marketers need to know.
What marketers need to know is: Did the ad reach the right audience at the right time and place, and did it happen when the consumer could be influenced? Was the message relevant to the consumer? Did it compel the recipient to act? That’s important in the mobile age. Customer expectations are on the rise. Accenture research in 2015 found that 52 percent of consumers quit doing business with a company they previously patronized due to poor service.
That points to the customer relationship. For instance, I bought t-shirts from a company I like. They make great t-shirts. Now the company spams me with ads to buy more. Guys, it’s over. I like the shirts but unless I lose my luggage, I don’t need more.
For that matter, just because someone researched insurance online in June doesn’t mean they want a policy five or six months later. Likewise, the consumer who bought a toddler gift last week probably won’t buy more toddler clothing. Any company that understands a shopper well enough will not need to target and retarget an individual with ads just because of a single purchase or online search.
Smart companies study customer buying patterns and demographics before making marketing investments. But let’s be honest: These so-called informed business decisions boil down to educated guesses due to the limited context that isolated transactions provide.
Mind the Gap
The reality is there are large contextual gaps in the historical data that marketers typically use.
For instance: A customer, let’s call him Ed, goes to a ball game, Saturday, and he buys beer and a hot dog. Two weeks ago, he bought tires for his vehicle. And, he goes to the grocery store every Thursday night like clockwork. But there is no other information about what else Ed does so marketers lack the necessary context to orchestrate a pleasing relationship with Ed. They do not know what Ed does in between those transactions. They most likely have not given Ed the opportunity to share more information with them. The trail is incomplete. It lacks context.
However, if a marketer were to successfully attract this fictitious customer, Ed, and gain a larger share of his wallet, they may understand him better. It may just be that, to a greater extent, they satisfied the expectations that Ed has for those with whom he does business.
Some retailers believe installing beacons may be the holy grail to solving this problem and growing their business. While beacons play a role in understanding behavior, it represents only a small part of the overall consumer profile due to the fact that people need to be in close proximity of the business. Others use web cookies to track digital trails. But triangulating information from these and other sources commonly used today by marketers doesn’t complete the consumer puzzle. That’s why marketers don’t know what they need to know about our hypothetical customer.
Mobile real-time geospatial analytics can bring contextual information to life so that marketers understand their customers and learn when to interact with them by studying behavior patterns. Customers have the choice to opt into sharing their location services in order to receive improved services and offers from brands with which they prefer to do business. Mogean technology is used by brands to gain behavioral insights without requiring surveys or any other direct input from their consumer audience. The people who choose to share their location services with brands that use Mogean’s technology benefit significantly by having to do less in order to get more out of their relationship with brands.
While little is required of customers, businesses access the information they need to be relevant. The business gains an understanding of its customers, and both become winners as a result of enabling more relevant marketing.
Marketers need to understand that because it’s now possible to operate at the molecular level with data, they need to find ways to use technology and data science to automate their complex work, so they can use metadata and be strategic.
Matt Reilly is the CEO of Mogean, which uses advanced geospatial location data and predictive analytics to deliver real-time information to companies to enable them to assess, predict and meet their customers’ needs.