There is no ‘on’ or ‘offline’ – it’s all just marketing

Aug. 02, 2013 | by marc.belle

Last Friday, we held an event at Google’s London offices looking at Maximising Opportunites with Display. It focused on the possibilities available to brands who were not currently engaging in display, as well as looking at the opportunities that arise once display becomes much more integrated into your overall creative strategy, search and media buying.

After the event, we made a beeline to the pub, for the usual post event debrief, and it was here that we got talking about whether digital marketing really is digital. Is it really about being ‘online’ or ‘offline’? Isn’t it all just marketing? Our event had been addressing an audience of brands who were already active in online spaces, but what about those brands who are not, or have limited budgets to do so? And what about those that are doing it but aren’t really syncing it up with what is happening ‘offline’. Surely they are missing potential opportunities, which ultimately must affect their ability to deliver a more effective marketing ROI.

To me there is no such thing as ‘online’ or ‘offline’. It’s all, just – now. Producing connected campaigns is the only way that you are going to harness your ability to effectively communicate with your target audience. For most of us it is actually pretty hard to be ‘offline’ today. Sure, you can pay a lot of money to go off on a wilderness holiday with no electricity where you have to forage for your tea – a little bit extreme and probably more ‘off the grid’ than ‘offline’. However walking to work in the morning, it’s normal for our phones to send push notifications of offers for the local coffee shop; we automatically respond to the ‘ping’ of an email landing in our inbox, glancing quickly to check it’s nothing urgent; and in the evening we’re checking some recipe website, whilst walking down the aisle of the supermarket to ensure we have the right ingredients for whatever culinary delight is on the cards that evening (King prawns, chorizo and patatas bravas in tomato sauce is a good choice by the way) all without ever really thinking “I’m online!”. The truth is that ‘online’ is an outdated concept – it is now a way of life for many of us and brands need to address this in their marketing strategies.

So, what does this have to do with the event we held last week? Well this. Many of our clients, who are already engaged in digital activities, have said to us that they often face a battle for budget against the traditional ‘offline’ marketing methods. This can be for a number of reasons; a lack of proven ROI or investment in digital sees funds being taken away from other marketing budgets such as outdoor print for example or even that if the basics of SEO and a couple of social profiles are covered that this is all the brand needs to do. It is time to stop thinking like this, start listening to what digital is telling you and use it to inform your marketing strategies. Use digital to tell you exactly what your customers and audience want, not what you think they want, and use it to react quickly.

Let me show you.

Take traditional bus advertising for example. Sitting in the pub last Friday, countless buses went by – all with an advert for the latest film, moisturizer or breakfast cereal. Such advertising is a scattergun approach to connecting with your target audience and engaging that front of mind awareness. If you look at display advertising, you have the ability to target multiple elements – demographics, interests, time of day, intent derived from search terms… much more targeted, much more personalised to your audience. However combining the two is when it gets really interesting and it’s already happening with billboards and taxis. If the bus had digital screens to bring the personalised ‘online’ elements of display it could be something really powerful. Say it was a hot day, drink companies, or coffee shops even, advertising on buses might, as the bus went via the park, choose to advertise the latest cold drink or smoothie; ice cream companies could highlight the latest flavour or retailers could cash in with swimwear adverts. And if it suddenly started raining and getting a bit chilly, retailers could instantly swap their ads to push umbrellas while the coffee shops jumped in with warm drinks instead. Whilst we are already running this dynamic type of creative and advertising ‘online’, few spaces are showing targeted outdoor display ads and really missing a trick. Ok so the above example relies on weather data but what if we used data that our customers were happy to share. For example I’ve recently been looking for short breaks to the Mediterranean every spare minute I can (which personally I find very stressful trying to fit it in in amongst the other things I usually need to do). However, if while I was heading down into the underground ads used the same data that my phone’s browser used to show me holiday specific ads and changed them as I went past, now that’d really be something! Of course it does rely on the data that our customers and audience are already openly giving us. But by using this data, coupled with dynamic and on-demand creative, regardless of whether it is ‘online’ or ‘offline’ , provides  true opportunities to advertise effectively.

Whilst technologies like this are only just emerging onto the market, it will not take long for them to be implemented and a part of everyday life. Ultimately, what digital can do right now is give you the insights that tell you what your audience likes right now and even if the buses are lagging behind it wont take long before you are lagging behind the buses if you are not investing in digital.

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    Comment (1)

    • The time has come for Online and Offline to become one - iCrossing

      [...] August I opened a discussion on whether there really was ‘online’ or ‘offline’ anymore, and how harnessing digital can [...]Feb 11, 2014 11:20 am

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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