As programmatic advertising picks up steam, and targeting data becomes an increasingly important commodity, the lines between the marketing tools which businesses use to reach new customers and the customer relationship management (CRM) systems on which many brands rely to understand their existing ones will continue to blur. Consequently, ad tech firms like RadiumOne, are pushing beyond the lead generation marketing world, building CRM services to reach brands’ existing customers at the place where commerce occurs most: in-store.
The San Francisco-based company, which got its start by using social data to target ads, has released RadiumConnect, a mobile messaging software development kit (SDK) that allows retailers to run push notification campaigns based on the soup of information brands already collect about customers. A retailer, for instance, could integrate the SDK into their loyalty app and use the service to send discounts to users who have made a purchase in the past or have seen an ad, only when they’re nearby a store.
The company is offering the product free of charge to clients of its paid media buying service, which allows brands to algorithmically place ads across social media, banner and mobile inventory. For the three-year-old startup, the mobile product serves as an important departure from the web, and an important linchpin connecting its paid media service with brands customer data.
“Mobile is the key to bringing the online and offline together. It’s a bridge, and without that bridge it becomes very difficult to keep track of customer behavior,” said Kamal Kaur, VP of mobile at RadiumOne. “The real advantage to the product is that now clients can allow [the company] to optimize their paid media campaigns because we have connect these three parts: mobile, web and in-store.”
At their most basic, mobile notifications provide retailers with an easy way to generate value from a lackluster application, says Kaur. After investing heavily in 2010 and 2011, many brands have struggled to sustain the kind of usage and engagement need to justify the investment in their apps.
“For now, [the SDK] is a medium for messaging while [the retailer] continues to build the user base to utilize their application,” said Kaur. “Not all apps are wonderfully designed but nonetheless, people use them. Down the road, the app will no longer be about messaging, but will become an essentially path where we actually transact.”
In many ways, the mobile messaging feature represents the early stage of a significant push by the company into a potentially lucrative mobile market that could provide an important growth area as the firm reportedly pursues an IPO. Although the firm is not generating revenue from the product, the SDK provides a hook into the brand’s mobile applications, and the increasingly valuable user data that businesses can collect from these products.
As brands embrace an omni-channel strategy, and in-store technology improves, retailers will be able to execute web tactics while consumers are shopping in-stores. For instance, Kaur says the company is already working with retailers to integrate Apple’s iBeacon technology, which uses Bluetooth LE to detect when users are nearby, into the software, allowing brands to send push notifications with deep discounts to consumers as they’re leaving the store.
Given the percentage of commerce that occurs locally, the ability to message consumers, and quantify their behavior, in-store will play an important role in the growth of programmatic marketing. As a new wave of ad tech firms like RadiumOne and RocketFuel IPO, look to these companies as potential acquirers for in-store analytics and messaging startups.
Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.