Timeliness is Relevance: Speed is the New Data Point of Differentiation

January 13, 2016

As consumer behaviors have become more immediate and span more channels, advertisers are increasingly focused on people-based marketing strategies to reach them. The picture is clear: A consumer walking down a busy retail street, checking a favorite social media app, reading an article from a favorite blog, and buying something from a local store. While the imagery is familiar, advertisers still struggle to keep up with the fast-changing habits of today’s always-on customers.

The challenges are typically focused on the technology available and how well a technology partner can deterministically piece together the disparate parts of that consumer’s journey in order to serve relevant, personalized advertising. It makes sense – creating a holistic view of a consumer is the foundation for any people-based marketing strategy. But what about the other part of that equation – the speed with which consumers move? How valuable is one without the other?

Case in point: I recently renewed my cell phone service with my long-time carrier, and paid a premium for the most cutting edge device, which I have done the past three renewals with them. My journey was standard, from researching online review sites, logging into my account to schedule an appointment, and buying a phone in person that same week.

The following day, I was served dozens of ads from my current carrier offering me a new customer discount for a second tier device. How much money did the company spend to bombard me with messages that it should have known were too late and completely irrelevant to me, based on my browsing and purchase history?

So, that raises the question – what can advertisers do to capture some of the lost value that occurs because their data isn’t connecting the customer journey at the speed in which the consumer is moving? The answer is to ensure that timeliness is valued just as much as a complete view of the customer journey– from strategy, through technology, down to campaigns and tactics.

In this series, I’ll explore three approaches advertisers can use to take action on the right data at the right time to identify customers and their buying signals across channels and devices:

  • Negative targeting to reduce the instances of wasteful ads
  • Onboarding offline data and activating media in real time to keep pace with the consumer
  • Collecting, identifying and taking action on mobile data to connect the customer journey

While many people-based marketing strategies may already take these concepts into consideration, using a technology platform that allows advertisers to act on them in real time is a key differentiator in success.

Negative Targeting

In the example outlined above, the simplest solution for advertisers is to ensure they are updating their various ad platforms with consumer behavior data as quickly as possible. Whether that is based on an on-line conversion, a CRM file, a thank you e-mail or post log-in pixel, advertisers should make sure that they are using as much of the conversion data they are collecting as possible to update each of their buying platforms in real time, so that users subsequently stop receiving offer messaging.

Are you working with a technology partner that allows you to collect and take action on this data in real-time? In doing so, you have the opportunity to greatly reduce, if not stop, the spend on wasted messages that are irrelevant, and at times even frustrating, to those customers. This is particularly important for advertisers that are heavily reliant upon re-targeting, as the systems and business rules related to them often raise bids based on how recently a customer exhibited a behavior. Furthermore, this represents an even bigger opportunity to segment converted customers and instead send them messages for complementary products or services in an effort to enhance their experience and build loyalty.

In part two of this series, I’ll address the other two ways that advertisers can capitalize on customer signals as they occur to enhance people-based marketing strategies: connecting online and offline data in real time for activating media, and completing the cross-device customer journey. The discussion will detail the strategies and the technology that can help to tie together and take action on customer behaviors as they occur for the most efficient and relevant messaging.

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Jon Padilla

Jon is a data-driven marketer who's passionate about using technology to deliver innovative media strategies and create meaningful digital measurement. He the former Director of Product Strategy at Signal.