We marketers often get on our soapbox and make big predictions about the technology that will reinvent the industry e.g. “The Year of Mobile,” “The Year of Video.” But, the truth is that it’s a combination of technology AND consumer behavior over a number of years that really make the greatest impact on evolving current industry thinking and practices.
In the advertising industry, the biggest shake-up in recent years has been the growth in mobile usage among consumers, combined with the rise of people-based advertising technology. Before mobile became so widespread, advertisers relied on cookie-based targeting to track consumer behavior across desktop devices. Then, with the shift in consumer behavior, a new era of people-based marketing came into play to address the cross-device dilemma advertisers were facing.
Now that people-based advertising has been around for a few years, I believe the next few years will be those of refinement. Think smaller, more meaningful changes, and ones in which brand marketers look to truly refine their approach and process. Here’s what to expect:
The customer journey will continue to evolve
According to a 2016 report from comScore, time spent on mobile devices has surpassed time spent on TV, accounting for 65 percent of all digital usage. At the same time, smart TV consumption is exploding, comprising half of all TV shipments last year. The customer journey no longer begins and ends on a PC, or in a brick and mortar store for that matter. Instead, mobile and smart TVs offer many divergent paths to conversion. Due to each platform’s unique opportunities and technological challenges, the next few years will be an important time for brands to evolve from omnichannel operations to omnichannel strategies that work together to foster deeper relationships with customers. In short, they’ll want to know them better and be able to anticipate their needs as they move freely across a “wall-less garden” on a variety of platforms.
Whoever owns the customer relationship, owns the data and the communication.
As consumers continue to move away from the PC as the origination point, advertisers will rely less on cookies and more on first-party, deterministic data to lead their decision-making. This is a good thing for everyone. Arguably, cookies have always been a flawed way to target consumers, as they represent the advertiser’s best guess at who is behind the screen. On mobile, cookies are even less relevant. It goes without saying that it is nearly impossible to truly engage with a consumer if you have to guess what they’re doing 75 percent of the time.
Content consumption on smart TVs will add to the erosion of marketing’s siloes.
The impact of digital and mobile video consumption is already being felt by traditional, linear television. TV ads are becoming shorter to mimic the digital experience, and as smart TVs flood the market, advertisers will again need to adjust the approach of their campaigns to become less tailored to individual platforms and more focused on targeted, cross-channel buys that extend to digital and across all devices.
Finally, this will all lead to future changes in media buying strategies. Budgets and strategies have traditionally been siloed, a budget for TV, a budget for online and so forth. As advertisers adjust to reaching the individual, on any device–yes, that includes TV, they’ll need to think holistically. It’s about reaching the consumer where they are, regardless of the platform. That is the future.