When Oreo sent its now famous “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet during a power outage that hit the Super Bowl a few years ago, it caused a sensation. Of the more than 15,000 viewers who retweeted Oreo’s message, many declared it better than any of the TV ads that they saw that night.
Though 15,000 is a minuscule number compared to the 108 million people who watched the game, the Oreo tweet was just the opening salvo of a growing battle between traditional advertising and a new kind of campaign that thrives on pinpoint timing and context – known as moment marketing.
Getting messages to customers at the right time and in the right place has always been a part of marketing. Take billboards for restaurants near highway exits, for instance. Now, mobile devices have taken that concept to an entirely new level. In fact, people check their phones 150 times per day and spend a little over a minute per session on average, according to Google. That adds up to dozens of opportunities for businesses to be there in the right moment for customers.
Dunkin’ Donuts and Red Roof Inn Hit the Right Moments
Customers are constantly using their phones to search for information, find places to go, and research products. Businesses that can offer relevant, useful information in those moments can benefit from the urgency that accompanies them. For example, when a person types in “coffee near me,” Dunkin’ Donuts provides a map with nearby locations and wait times.
Other businesses have taken an event-driven approach to being there in the moment. The Red Roof Inn hotel chain uses data from aviation software provider FlightAware to track flight delays in real time. When flights were backed up at Chicago’s O’Hare recently, Red Roof tuned Google’s ad search system to automatically raise its bid to win ad space when desperate passengers tapped queries such as “hotels near O’Hare” into their smartphones. Room bookings increased 60 percent thanks to those ads, according to Google.
Well-timed search ads, like those from Red Roof Inn, are effective in creating moments of discovery at a high level. But, predicting the moments that will matter to customers at an individual level is much harder. A Forrester survey found that few companies have the skills and infrastructure to identify the moments when shoppers are ready to engage. Yet among them, there were some that could decipher the right timing, which, according to the report, led to a much higher ROI on their mobile ad investments.
Marketers aren’t seeing rising returns from traditional advertising. TV’s influence is on the wane, and consumers have had enough of poorly targeted digital display ads. Click through rates are a dismal 0.17 percent, and the use of ad-blocking software is on the rise.
Business Must Organize Around Moments that Matter
The message is clear: If marketers want consumers to pay attention, they need to start making the shift to a contextual, moments-based approach. To do that, the rest of the business, not just marketing, will need to organize itself around those moments. For example, UK retailer Argos has put its inventory online and created mobile ads that show consumers what’s available in store locations near them.
Linking to inventory is just the beginning, however. In many companies, customer data is spread across many different systems. That information must be integrated or contained in one place to enable live interactions. Companies will also need insights from that data to be able to predict, create, and respond to moments.
Perhaps most challenging of all, companies must have complete integration across every variety of customer channels – even areas that are not typically considered part of the buying experience, but feed it (such as the supply chain). That requires getting leaders of each of those areas to cooperate and rethink organizational structures and processes to act in the moment.
Obviously, building an organization that can act in the moment is a tremendous effort. Soon, however, businesses will have no choice. With the growth in mobile and the Internet of Things, we’re moving to a point where there will be no online or offline – only connectedness and a constant stream of moments of opportunity. Businesses need to be ready to follow through on those moments.
For more on creating moments that matter to customers, anytime and anywhere, see Live Business: Live Customer Experiences for the Digital Economy.
Christopher Koch is the editorial director of the SAP Center for Business Insight.