#SFSNYC: Think Context Not Platforms, Says Google’s Tim Reis

SW_20130116_NY_6034While 2012 may have been mobile’s breakout year, Tim Reis, head of mobile and social solutions at Google, urged marketers to move this year beyond platforms and instead focus on context during a morning keynote at the Street Fight Summit on Wednesday.

“Consumers are very comfortable across [multiple] platforms; they don’t silo these activities,” Reis said. “ We as marketers need to adapt and reshape how we talk to consumers” about these habits.

For Reis and Google, context is key. Inasmuch as constant connectivity has fragmented the environment in which users engage with the web, identifying and understanding context will drive value both for consumers and advertisers. Think Google Now.

With the evolution toward small “m” mobile comes more immediacy — more decision-making happening via connected devices in real time. Take local commerce: Seventy-four percent of smartphone owners have purchased as a result of use of their device while shopping, according to Reis. Or hospitality: Priceline, said Reis, found that 82% of people booking on their smartphone made reservations for the same day, and more than a third were within a mile of the location.

So how do marketers identify and engage consumers during these moments? Reis pointed to a recent program by eMart, in which the Korean retailer planted structures across the city that projected a QR code with an attached discount at about noon, typically a downtime. “It’s a marketer taking the digital world and allowing it to empower the physical world,” said Reis about the campaign. “Part of this is understand[ing] location as a way to engage with consumers on a personal level.”

Reis also stressed that marketers and brands need to rethink the way in which marketers define success as users move beyond, and between, platforms. “We do not have a conversion problem  in mobile, said Reis. “We have an attribution problem.” Capturing the right rewards — say foot traffic into a store rather than clicks on a screen — requires marketers to move between platforms  and bring metrics from one to the other.

The key here is for marketers to measure as much as possible — the clicks, bricks, and everything in between. “Are you gathering enough data and are you using that information to think in terms of contexts instead of platforms?” Reis asked. “The more data you have, the more patterns you’ll see emerge.”

It’s data, and the context and patterns embedded in those data, that will allow marketers to reach the right user, in the right time, and in the right place.

Steven Jacobs is deputy editor at Street Fight.

Photo credit: Shana Wittenwyler