For all its late nights, heated arguments, and deal-making pressure, the upfront season encapsulates everything media professionals love about the TV industry — its impact on pop culture, its undisputed dominance as a reach vehicle, and its unquestioned ability to drive business outcomes.
Despite its strengths, however, television — like all mass-reach platforms — also presents a significant challenge for marketers. Transacting against broad-based demographics challenges brands to appeal to the sensitivities of multiple mindsets, life-stages, and cultures with a single piece of creative. This all-inclusive approach to media and messaging is not only impossible —and wasteful — but it also undermines the value marketing teams unlock through the study and definition of more-focused groupings of consumers.
Reach without precision is a limited approach. Thankfully, technology and client “inspiration” (aka investment trends), are driving TV and other legacy platforms to evolve. These forces reflect brands’ desire to reach the people they’ve identified as most amenable to their products, and they reflect the desire to do so with messaging that is deeply relevant to consumers’ lifestyles and interests.
Beyond Reach: Location and Context as a Path to ‘Deep Audience’
Powered by technology and informed by consumer activity, mobile advertising gives marketers the ability to identify, cluster, and reach qualified audiences at massive scale, and across the entire purchase journey. We are far beyond the first generations of geo-tactics and baby-banner experiences: it’s important to understand what location-powered marketing has become in order to realize its full potential.
- Consumer behaviors drive insights. While there is still value in serving mobile creative to in-aisle shoppers, or to car-buyers when they are close to a dealership, early iterations of geofencing and related act-now tactics often bypass the inspiration-phase of the consumer’s journey. The deep audience lives in the moments of researching and planning prior to brick-and-mortar experiences. When marketers leverage real-world behavior and location patterns to identify when and how consumers are most receptive to messaging, they can influence consumer experiences prior to what Google terms the “zero moment of truth.” These timeframes and points on the geo-aware map are as unique as the individual: they can happen in the stands at the Little League field on Saturday afternoon; they can occur on the couch at home (interestingly, mobile usage spikes considerably from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., just like TV).
- Why constrict measurement to attribution? Visit-lift and sales outcomes are important measurements, but only valuing location-powered mobile based on these metrics is to ignore the platform’s broader impact. Location allows us to look beyond the click, the tap, the view; it allows us to analyze incremental behavior and broaden our understanding of traditional “hero” metrics.
- Location: demographics and the dynamic platform. When it comes to relevance and context, consumers, especially Millennial and Gen Z consumers, have high expectations. Brands and marketers are speaking directly to them on devices that they consider their personal space. They expect brands to “know” them — and to be relevant to them — based their real-world environments, movements, and behaviors. The smartphone has become a conduit to highly personalized, contextual, non-intrusive, anticipatory inspiration. Irrelevant creative will be rejected. It’s not just about where the shopper is standing, it’s about what they need next and how to get them to that new point.
While TV’s upfronts might bring physical and mental exhaustion, we don’t have to question the legitimacy of television for hitting scale and reaching massive numbers. It is no exaggeration, however, to say that the ubiquity of mobile devices gives marketers the ability to reach every one of us, individually. The television crowd may not have heard it presented this way in upfront presentations, but location-plus-mobile is the dominant precision-reach vehicle of our time.
To maximize the deep-audience opportunity, clients, agencies, and vendors need to be careful not to rely on legacy thinking and analysis to inform a campaign or measure its relative success. Mobile and its geo-aware evolution has become a powerful complement to legacy platforms — and it’s time we recognize its place in the mix, celebrate its evolving role, and activate it the right way.
As an ambassador of Verve’s advertising portfolio and industry-leading mobile technologies, Jon Friedman is charged with developing and maintaining relationships with agency leaders, mobile influencers, and key client decision makers. He facilitates ongoing collaborations between Verve’s partners and its product, marketing, analytics, creative, publisher, and revenue teams.