Consumers are constantly moving from their desktops/laptops to tablets to smartphones and back again. On average, each household has 4.4 devices. Nielsen reports that people spend about 60 hours per week using those devices. Do the math—digital advertising has the potential to reach record-breaking audiences.
Media dollars follow consumer behavior—as they should. But is the growth of media consumption a glass-half-empty situation for marketers? Customers’ attention spans are short, and the amount of distractions they get exposed to continues to climb. Still, advertisers are harnessing digital not only to engage the audiences they know, but also to cultivate new customers. With the right strategy and tools, the sky is the limit.
The Future of Ad Buying
Marketing isn’t made easier just because the digital age has created more advertising platforms. In fact, all of these opportunities to connect, reach, and engage customers make the marketer’s task more complicated. We now have to plan for ad messages on desktop, mobile, digital, video — and that’s on top of TV, in-print, in-store, and more. New tech for the different channels of consumer engagement with digital advertising continues to multiply like bunnies.
However, before testing and adopting new platforms, marketers need to understand the new terms and tactics brought about by digital media:
- Multi-channel: This term describes the ad inventory available across different digital content channels — web, in-app, video, and more. Today, there are more opportunities than ever for brands to spread their messages to different customers across these channels to compel them to act (sign up, make a purchase, etc.). It pays to increase reach: Customers who interact with a brand on multiple channels spend about three to four times as much as those who interact with a brand on a single channel.
- Cross-device: While “multi-channel” addresses the various opportunities to engage audiences (each ad message distributed via distinct media “swim lanes”), “cross-device” tactics target the same audience on multiple devices, consistently.
In theory, this sounds simple, but it can be quite complicated. Cross-device marketing seeks to guide the customer journey by linking that user’s data across different platforms. There are numerous tracking methodologies that utilize unique device IDs, cookies, beacons, and more.
Managing this process is challenging, but the rewards are tremendous if a marketer can deliver a seamless brand story across consumers’ devices while he’s in the midst of a decision-making moment.
- Cross-channel: “Cross-channel” coordinates device targeting and audience access into a holistic strategy that personalizes and evolves the message as the consumer moves — from channel to channel and device to device — through each phase of the purchase journey. As the user’s interests become more focused and their consumption and activity intensifies, it becomes even more important to shape and customize that message.
Paint a Complete Marketing Picture
To truly understand these terms, let’s consider a hypothetical example.
Say some marketers want to target mothers. They can do so with banners and videos on both mobile and web applications, social media, and various other platforms. That’s multi-channel marketing, and it’s relatively easy to accomplish; there are plenty of technology tools that automate this process.
Now, if those same marketers want to know whether they’re reaching a specific mom as she moves through her day (and across devices), they need to apply cross-device targeting: ensuring a consistent experience, regardless of whether that mom is engaging on her laptop or smartphone.
Combining these two marketing elements while using data to continuously hone and apply marketing messages yields a cross-channel strategy. Cross-channel strategies empower marketers to take a holistic approach when interacting with any customer on digital media.
Understanding the new terms born out of the multi-device world gives brands clarity to achieve their digital marketing goals. Furthermore, brands can use this knowledge to better collaborate with the various industry partners developing technology to execute a cross-channel strategy — which will ultimately deliver business outcomes that matter to any marketer.
Kelly Wenzel is CMO of Centro.