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Marketers On A Quest For Omnichannel Relevance

It is easy to feel a little uneasy about the current state of marketing and advertising. For one, consumers are actively adopting solutions to remove us as an industry.

The increasing use of ad blockers has been a troubling development in our community that underscores the industry’s fundamental crisis: Despite unprecedented insights into consumer behavior and preferences, marketers continue to inundate consumers with messages and ads that are not relevant to them.

In order to personalize marketing at the individual level and eliminate waste, brands need to be able to recognize consumers on all their digital devices and on any marketing platform (i.e., people-based marketing). But creating an omnichannel view of the consumer—the prerequisite to powering relevant marketing at scale—is one of the industry’s biggest challenges.

LiveRamp recently commissioned an industry study to better understand this challenge and others facing marketers as they seek to make the transition to people-based marketing across all channels. Here are some of the key findings and takeaways for marketers.

Omnichannel Challenge
Building an omnichannel view of the consumer is critical for marketers, but most lack the ability to do so. The study found that 90% of marketers identified the need to build an omnichannel view of the consumer as important or extremely important, but only 17% indicated they have the ability to do so. Bridging this gap is key to marketing effectiveness.

Let me illustrate with an example that demonstrates the difference between targeting me based on a single data point (e.g., a purchase) and targeting me based on an omnichannel understanding—and how different the result would be. Say I recently purchased a sport coat at a department store in London. In all likelihood, what I’m likely to see is another ad for a sport coat, which I would immediately ignore. In reality, if a brand had unified everything they know about me, the marketer would see there is a lot more going on and be able to orchestrate a better result.

Using first-party data, a marketer could see I was traveling in London. Augmenting that understanding with second-party and third-party data, the marketer could learn that I enjoy traveling to exotic locations and that I am classified as an outdoorsman. By bringing all these data sources together, the marketer could target me with an offer to a beachside resort that features an abundance of outdoor activities. I would be far less likely to ignore this ad. Delivering marketing tailored to consumer interests will win out every time, which is why marketers are driven to gain an omnichannel understanding of the consumer.

Unify People-Based Marketing
While most marketers (79%) take advantage of the people-based marketing capabilities Google and Facebook offer on their properties, the vast majority of marketers (84%) want to unify their people-based marketing strategies across all digital channels, according to the study.

I like how one of our clients put it recently: “Customer obsession relies on knowing consumers at every touch point and across any channel, digital or offline.” Brands must be able to recognize consumers wherever they encounter them, so they can coordinate efforts across channels and platforms to provide a great omnichannel customer experience—the area every brand competes in.

Marketing Challenge
But marketers struggle to do so—and it’s only going to become more difficult. The information marketers gather about consumers—who they are, what they care about, what they buy, and the marketing they are exposed to—is spread across a rapidly growing number platforms and touch points. Five years ago, there were just over 250 platforms; today there are more than 3,500. And according to the study, touch points such as virtual and augmented reality, the internet of things, wearables, and chatbots are all expected to play a significance role in marketing over the next five years.

The number of data sources marketers need to bring into an omnichannel view will continue to expand. Without a strategy to overcome fragmentation and recognize consumers in current and emerging digital channels, marketers will continue to be hard-pressed to deliver relevant marketing and advertising.

Ultimately, the surefire way to cut through the noise is to gain an omnichannel understanding of the consumer journey. Only then can you reach real people in the digital world and deliver effective messages and ads tailored to a unique individual.

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