A True Omnichannel Experience Reaps the Biggest Rewards

06/08/2017 09:56 am ET

By Tom Alexander

Having founded advertising’s first omnichannel media company, I’ve seen how the industry has changed — and influenced change. Long gone are the days when marketing meant purchasing a few television spots and magazine ads. As new forms of media emerged over the years, brands created departments around them: print, radio, TV, social media, and so on. But these media silos are now woefully out of date.

Omnichannel refers to all the different channels through which a customer might interact with a brand. True omnichannel platforms, which are structured to engage the customer most effectively depending on the channel, include:

  • OLV (online video): desktop, mobile and tablet placements
  • OTT (over-the-top boxes): connected TVs and video on demand, like Hulu or NBC on demand
  • DOOH (digital screens for out-of-home placements): billboards on the sides of buildings, in malls or in theaters or any other outdoor digital screen

In a true omnichannel campaign, the placement of advertisements should be coordinated and tracked across these different platforms.

Big Effort, Bigger Effect

Like most ad campaigns, omnichannel marketing seeks to increase awareness for a product and situate the brand favorably against the competition. The ultimate goal is to generate actual purchases, and it works because the user has been able to effortlessly interact with the brand in a meaningful way through naturally consumed media sources.

Marvel, for instance, began with a grand omnichannel scheme, and the tactic has led it to become one of the most profitable brands in the world. It reaches nearly every space a potential moviegoer’s eyes might be: Marvel titles appear on streaming platforms such as Netflix; it has a huge presence at conferences like Comic-Con; its shows are on network TV and its numerous social media accounts canvas online spaces.

Individual products can also be marketed much more effectively with an omnichannel approach. When we ran an omnichannel campaign to promote KitchenAid’s Artisan Mini Mixer, for instance, the impact was significant. We incorporated DOOH placements into our overall media strategy. We started with in-theater for the summer movie releases. We used online, mobile and tablet integrations throughout the lift of the campaign, heavying up with CTV placements during the fall premiere schedule, finally ending with the holiday retails season with in-mall placements. Through the use of our core technology platform, we were able to connect KitchenAid to its target audience utilizing sequential messaging across all channels.

Measuring Omnichannel Success

Before implementing omnichannel marketing as a branding initiative, it’s essential to understand how to measure success. Define success based on the overall metrics rather than get too focused on individual numbers, such as gross rating points or click-through rates. Siloed tracking by channel won’t work. A holistic approach toward raising customer lifetime value is more suited to omnichannel measurement.

Although there isn’t a perfect measurement tool for a wide-ranging campaign, overarching metric aggregators can be useful. We use Nielsen's Digital Brand Effect, which keeps track of an exposed user’s total engagement with the brand across multiple touchpoints. Its predictive device graphs include more than six billion devices, so companies that use it can get an overall snapshot of what’s going on with customers. One well-known brand we've worked with was able to generate 70 percent lift in purchase intent utilizing desktop and mobile placements on our platform. While this is almost 10 times higher than Nielsen's norms for intent, when we included DOOH and CTV placements as well, we were able to demonstrate how all channels drive greater lift together.

Implementing an Omnichannel Strategy

Large coordinated marketing campaigns require sophisticated management, and omnichannel strategies are no different. Having a core technology platform and partner helps standardize the campaign's performance. Implementation with each channel partner is key, so you are using the same counting methodology for all statistics that are generated.

It is also important to ensure you are sharing data across DOOH, OTT and OLV, as this allows brands to look at sequential messaging opportunities to help drive users through the purchase funnel. For example, in working with KitchenAid, we tagged and retargeted consumers who were exposed to our initial creative. This allowed us to identify any users that had seen specific creative executions and we are able to decide which creative messaging to show that user next. We showed further creatives that had a “Learn More” call to action, then sequential efforts where the call to action was “Purchase Now.” We were able to let the brand play an active — rather than passive — role in the buyer’s journey.

Developing these strategies is not only beneficial for brands that want to stand out and attract customers. Omnichannel appeals to consumers, too. A coordinated brand strategy across multiple channels is never easy to develop, but the rewards for both the company and customer are promising.

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Tom Alexander is founder and CEO of PK4 Media, a true omnichannel media company located in El Segundo, Calif.

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