The marketer’s next challenge: Seamless digital integration
The way in which people consume content has changed dramatically in the past decade. The uptake in mobile media consumption has created a diverse range of platforms, and marketers now have incredible opportunities for reaching target audiences. However, these technological developments have proven to be somewhat of a double-edged sword; people consume content so rapidly and in so many ways, that it can be hard for brands to catch the eye and convey their message.
Because of this difficulty, marketers need to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket; there is no “magic bullet” in digital marketing, and brands need to use overlapping techniques to form an effective strategy. Of course, no brand can make use of every possible medium, which is why it’s so important to only select those that best fit your goals.
What is digital integration?
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that digital is taking over. It’s fast becoming the most important advertising channel, with a recent eMarketer survey predicting that digital ad spend will surpass TV in 2017 (accounting for nearly 40% of all advertising expenditure). The digital marketplace is thriving, and marketers must ensure that their chosen platforms complement one another to create a marketing strategy that’s stronger than the sum of its parts.
The key concept behind digital integration is that each aspect of a brand’s digital distribution strategy must be designed to work in tandem, with each platform feeding into and enhancing the user experience. Bringing together the many different strands of your marketing mix is a tall order, and should be initially driven by an understanding of your audience and the best way to reach them.
Once you’ve defined your brand’s core identity, you can select the tools which will best allow you to promote yourself. This should be informed by data about your target audience’s age, location and preferences, so that your content suits them. If you’re selling to millennials, for example, a bias towards short-form visual content on platforms like Snapchat might be ideal, but for older homeowners it might be better to create content for display on TV.
Linking TV and digital content
Thanks to advancements in tracking and attribution technology, brands have access to much greater information about the effectiveness of their output. Because TV adverts are no longer the blunt instrument they used to be, brands can improve their video creation and distribution strategy with useful data. This creates opportunities for different platforms to synergise in ways that were impossible only a few years ago.
Cross-platform synchronisation allows brands to match the display of content on one platform to follow-up media on another. A viewer can be shown an advert on their TV which will then trigger related content to be shown on their smartphone, opening them up to further engagement opportunities. This digital integration improves the effectiveness of the overall marketing strategy, and big brands like Hyundai report significant benefits from syncing their channels.
Traditionally, with TV media it was difficult to determine precisely how effective a given piece of content was, since there was no easy way to attribute it. However, by combining TV ads with a digital component, it’s much easier to follow the customer’s journey to purchase, and determine how effective a strategy has been.
Even more so than TV ads, the effectiveness of billboards has been nearly impossible to track, but digital integration has also helped to improve tracking technology outside of the home.
The great outdoors - digital out of home
The advent of programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising has led to many more opportunities for brands to create content which is flexible and responsive, and can adapt to different situations. Clear Channel, for example, allows brands to alter the content they display each day, making their messages more relevant and engaging.
OOZO.tv take this one step further with “Social Media Television”, an innovation which allows members of the public to seize their own 15 seconds of fame. The powerful incentive for engagement which this offers creates a significant boost for brands and allows a “hyper local” presence to develop.
This technology helps to connect the marketer’s big screen with the little one in the viewer’s pocket. Combining the broad reach of DOOH with the granular and data-rich mobile world helps to build attribution and model customer behaviour. This information is invaluable for marketers, since it can help develop and refine strategies.
Digital integration on the small screen
Not every business needs large scale DOOH deployment or TV spots. Simply finding ways to bring the different streams of your online presence together can reap rewards, and one of the most fertile grounds for new content is the mobile arena.
Brands that place an emphasis on mobile should seek to carry this through their entire user experience from start to finish. This means investing in creating consistently high-quality content for mobile-first platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, and providing content that keeps the audience engaged. A key part of this is adapting to how viewers consume content, and taking steps to provide media that suits the audience.
A great example of brands taking advantage of mobile to drive user engagement is Netflix’s Snapchat campaign in Paris. Using Snapchat’s “Face Swap” feature, people could engage directly with Netflix billboards, instantly creating shareable content.
This is a fantastic example of how brands can use mobile platforms to turn static assets into interactive ones with a little effort. Brands shouldn’t see mobile as “just another platform”, but as a way to digitise their audience’s personal experiences.
Mobile should be integrated with the rest of a business’s marketing strategy for maximum effectiveness but, where this is impossible, brands can still emphasise the importance of mobile in the customer experience. For example, creating vertical videos for social media will optimise the user experience for mobile display, creating content that caters to mobile before desktop users.
Brands can also interlink their different platforms using If This Then That, a service which allows people to create custom relationships between platforms. This lets users build up a set of tools which suit their specific needs, hooking up their Instagram and Pinterest account automatically or synchronising Foursquare with Google Calendar to track check-ins.
The future of digital integration
Marketers have their work cut out in the coming years, and the wealth of opportunities presented will reward hard work and innovation. The exponential growth of mobile looks set to continue, and a fully-integrated digital marketing strategy will become increasingly essential if you want to stand out and be heard above the noise.