Last night the New York Times once again welcomed 212NYC for a night of insights and networking with a fascinating Drawbridge-sponsored panel on cross-platform marketing. A lively crowd gathered despite the storm to hear Times Advertising VP Steven Shalit pick the minds of Annalect CMO Erin Matts, ComScore Executive VP Jeff Hackett, and Universal McCann’s VP Research Group Partner Kimberly Conon.
With over 60 percent of digital users operating on multiple screens it’s more important than ever to understand how people spend time and interact with every type of device – be it computer, smartphone, tablet, phablet (yes, that’s a thing) or whatever comes next.
Shalit opened up the evening’s debate discussing the opportunities and obstacles presented by the creation of creative sequencing across screens. This process involves identifying a user as he or she moves among devices and offering content that’s designed for that unique journey, experience, and person. When done successfully, as seen in Microsoft’s innovative storytelling development for Lexus, the campaign increases the effectiveness of a brand’s overall advertising and creates that ideal kind of immersion that ultimately leads to sales.
The field is nascent, however, and many of us are still figuring it out. When considering the first steps in cross-platform marketing, Conon suggests, “You should always start with a deep dive into your target audience. Where is your consumer? Which media are they using? How does that trend throughout the day?” In other words, developing a nuts and bolts understanding of your market is crucial before designing tests or starting to allocate any kind of spending. “For me,” Conon says, “it all starts with being rooted in consumer insight.”
Hesitating or getting sidetracked is to be expected, but Hackett reassures that the opportunities outweigh the risks. He shared a potentially scary statistic which revealed that average viewership of The Simpsons in 1990 was 38 million, compared with 4 million in 2013. Online marketers know, after all, that fewer eyes on television don’t equal to fewer eyes on the prize. “When you start studying how these different media work together and how they can drive results for advertisers, its pretty amazing,” says Hackett. “There’s data out there that empirically shows that you can drive response much more effectively through the use of multiple media.”
Naturally there remains a long way to go. Planning and measurement tools need to evolve and, Hackett continued, “We have to be clear upfront: What is the outcome that we’re looking for? Nine out of 10 times, it’s not the click-through. We have to be smarter about the desired outcome, which is usually moving the desired product off the shelf.”
Analytics, of course, are key here, and there’s plenty of numbers to mine. Matts stressed that most brands are “sitting on a lot of data or have been subscribing to third party data for years. Oftentimes they don’t even know who in their organization is buying it or where it’s coming from. Parsing your way through that data glut can be challenging.” For companies like Annalect, ComScore and UM, that kind of influx presents a huge opportunity to explore the interplay among different data sources and take advantage of the data infrastructure.
Clarity is of utmost importance, as are the fundamentals. Understanding consumer needs, where they are being met, and designing a plan based on that is square one. It’s also a good idea to look at different categories and study how people lead up to their purchasing decisions, tracking consumer and device behavior throughout the day as well as from discovery to purchase.
“It’s about figuring out the right sequence for each brand,” says Conon. And it sounds like we’ve definitely got some work cut out for us. “Everybody wants to create that heart-wrenching piece of creative – something exciting, inspiring, exhilarating and poignant. The trick is finding the balance between the chase for that breakthrough idea and leaving yourself enough time to be really crafty in how you serve it up.”
By Anastasia Dyakovskaya, NewsCred Contributor