Omnichannel marketing first took hold among retailers anxious to tap into consumers’ time-, place-, platform- and device-shifting habits, and digital continues to blur where, when and how people interact with marketers, according to a new eMarketer report, “Key Digital Trends for Q3 2013: How Omnichannel Is Blurring Boundaries Everywhere.”
Expansion, and now contraction, in what constitutes a consumer is due in part to the erosion in meaning of established terms like “mobile.” For example, when a majority of mobile device usage takes place at home, mobile no longer differentiates a sedentary consumer from one who is on the go. The mobile device is merely another representation of the consumer, increasingly indistinct from any other computing device.
Just as the lines between online and offline consumers have blurred, divisions between branding and direct-response advertising are also eroding. eMarketer estimates that out of a total of $41.94 billion in US digital ad spending in 2013, nearly 60% will go toward direct response. However, those allocations are set to shift as digital absorbs an ever-greater share of consumers’ media time. In 2017, eMarketer projects branding and direct response will enjoy nearly equal portions of the digital advertising pie.
And the boundaries between what constitutes a branding vs. direct-response campaign are also dissolving.
Search has typically been considered a direct-response format. However, by virtue of consumers’ reliance on both paid and organic search to find virtually everything, regardless of device or platform, search marketers have rightly argued for the branding power of this tactic. In an April 2013 MailOnline survey of US digital advertising and marketing executives, respondents rated search a close second to video as a marketing tactic critical for achieving branding objectives.
Contextual factors will help determine the effectiveness of ads served to a given device—for example, location (where the device is used), time (seasonality and daypart) and timeliness (the ability to respond to consumer interest and intent in real time).