Omni-channel by default

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Today there are more devices connected to the internet than there are people in the world. In fact, looking specifically at mobile, the GSMA reported that global mobile connections passed the 7 billion mark in April 2014; predicting that by year-end, global connections would match the 7.2 billion global population total projected by the United Nations.

Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the first go-to device for communications and content consumption, according to Gartner. Its analysists predict that, by 2018, more than 50 percent of users will go to a tablet or smartphone first for all online activities.

With this exponential increase multiple mobile devices has come a maturing in the ecosystem supporting it. Mobile marketing is an important part of the ecosystem - mobile is one of the most important channels in digital marketing because it is potentially the furthest down the sales funnel you can get before you reach the point of sale, and is therefore one of the final chances a brand has to influence a purchase.

Advertisers and marketers can now use mobile to better engage with their audience, effectively scale campaign messages and tie large multi-channel campaigns together. We have reached a point where the infrastructure supporting mobile devices is sufficient for consumer experiences to be enjoyed and seamlessly transferred across all platforms.

Cross-device attribution

In order for brands to continue reaping the benefits of mobile we need to recognise and address the main problem that hindered marketers in 2014: cross-device attribution; essentially seeing how people are moving between devices - across mobile apps and the desktop - before they convert.

This challenge has been developing for some time. As different marketing technologies became available over the past decade or so, companies have invested in marketing solutions at various stages to seize new opportunities.

The primary problem is often that multiple specialist technology is involved, or a main service provider will not update their offering soon enough to deliver for mobile, or integrate with the specialists who do. And when data comes from many disparate platforms, it becomes almost impossible to unify.

Imagine running a mobile campaign on one platform and a desktop campaign on another, but without a link between the two. You create two data sets which display similarities but, due to the behavioural differences across platforms, are difficult to align.

This means that the campaigns can never truly be called omni-channel; they run side-by-side and cannot be used to improve the targeting of the other. Then there’s a risk of targeting consumers who aren’t interested in the product as indicated by one dataset, thereby wasting ad dollars, or worse still, not marketing to consumers who would be interested in the message.

Value of data

Mobile data is incredibly valuable but more must be done to integrate technologies to truly harness it. The huge advantage mobile has brought is the ability to assign the data to the same mutual ID, such as email, which the user may also be accessing on their other devices.

Mobile also provides geo-location data which can add another layer of intelligence to targeting. However, more important than the data is the technical capability to match the desktop ID to the mobile ID. This is widely spoken about, but very few brands have the ability to do so because they do not have an integrated technology stack.

By investing in this area, brands can truly attribute preferences and behaviour across devices and the benefits are innumerable. Being able to understand a consumer’s journey across platforms and serve them marketing messages accordingly can give brands actual control over their sales funnel. And, significantly in a time where driving efficiencies is praised more than ever, it enables marketers to spend less, but sell more.

What will 2015 bring

2015 will no doubt bring many new challenges and opportunities. There are countless nascent technologies marketers will soon have to adapt to. Apple Watch is rumoured to be launching in March and is one example of where its function in omni-channel marketing is at present completely unknown.

In addition, smaller screens rely more heavily on advanced creative and great user experience so we are unlikely to see lazy banner adverts last long. With the increasing prevalence of 4G, video advertising is another growth area where mobile will become the platform of choice in 2015.

Likewise, digital out of home has quickly grown in prominence, with a movement towards programmatically serving adverts to consumers in the street and once again technology companies will have to decide how best to serve these units as part of an omni-channel marketing campaign.

One thing is certain however, the time of dividing marketing by platform is over, omni-channel must be the default, not the exception.

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