Leveraging Household Targeting and CTV to Influence the Customer Journey

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As technology has vastly increased the degree of targeting granularity marketers can achieve, there’s been a tendency to think of the customer journey as a solo endeavor. But in verticals like travel, QSR, and automotive, purchase decisions are more often a group activity involving all members of the family. Household targeting is the key to maximizing marketing performance in these segments.

Timelines and decision-making factors vary from vertical to vertical, but the common denominator is meaningful input from multiple family members. In the case of QSR, for example, the buying journey is short, often a same-day decision. But the kids are just as likely to influence a restaurant choice as mom and dad are, maybe more so.

Buying a car and planning a holiday are longer-term journeys, typically spanning weeks or months. But again, every voice is heard on relevant issues—from size, color, and options on a new set of wheels to destination, mode of travel, and where to stay for a holiday. 

These decisions aren’t made in a single conversation, so it’s important for marketers to maintain messaging for the duration of the buying journey.

Linking TV and web experiences

Reaching buyers throughout their journey has become easier thanks to advances in digital marketing technology and changes driven by Covid-19. People spending more time at home have become increasingly involved with their TVs and the personal digital devices that make remote work, learning, and entertainment possible. As a result, marketers have more opportunities to reach them by linking TV viewing experiences with web experiences.

Doing so is important because TV is still the dominant medium to deliver an in-depth, emotional brand experience. Its combination of video and sound can draw the viewer in, provide inspiration, and trigger aspiration. However, linear TV is not an interactive medium, and even CTV offers only limited interaction options.

Conversely, personal digital devices offer a multitude of options for interaction. Users can drill down on product details, get more information on brand offerings, even make a purchase. That’s why the ability to link the TV viewing experience with a web experience is critical.

CTV: Like linear, but better

Effective household targeting plays to the strengths of CTV. The medium delivers the same kind of brand experience messaging that linear TV provides, but it extends marketing reach to a viewer’s streaming services. CTV ads can also provide direct links to interactive web experiences using technologies like QR codes.

These capabilities are especially relevant in the automotive, travel, and QSR verticals. Car shoppers can link to a web experience on their mobile phone and get a 360-degree view of a model they’re interested in, sample different colors and option packages, explore pricing and incentives, and even take a virtual test drive.

Travel planners can check costs, accommodations, and availability at different venues and see what sorts of attractions and activities are available there. QSR is a shorter-term proposition, but interactive features make it easy for diners to find the closest location, see a menu, book a table, or place an order for delivery or pick-up.

As effective a channel as linear TV is for brand messaging, it lacks dynamism and is difficult to update. Not so with CTV, which is able to connect viewers to real-time information that is relevant to their interests no matter where they happen to be.

Changes with staying power

Covid has affected the customer journey in multiple ways. It has strengthened people’s bonds with their personal digital devices, increased their reliance on them, and changed their video consumption patterns. Already underway before the pandemic, these trends are here to stay. Deloitte reports that 82% of consumers subscribe to paid video streaming services (four per household, on average), 23% have added at least one new paid service since the pandemic began, and 55% use ad-supported services.

The pandemic also resulted in family members spending more time together than ever before, facilitating more opportunities for group buying decisions. As vaccination programs continue to make inroads, people are starting to return to offices, but remote work is not going away. A recent PwC survey found that 83% of employers feel the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, and 55% of employees would prefer to continue working remotely at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede. Gartner predicts that an increase in remote work will be the No. 1 employment trend post-Covid.

Taken together, these trends signal that buying decisions in certain verticals will remain a group activity. Marketers looking to influence those decisions should target their messaging at the household level and provide interactive options to improve the customer journey.

Tim Sleath is VP of Product Management at VDX.tv.