While the retail store or restaurant is accepted as being “ground zero” of the path to purchase, integrating this critical product selection and purchase location into the “paid-owned-earned” model of media, messaging and engagement has challenged merchants and brands. Now, dynamic location-based media, messaging and engagement strategies are allowing providers of goods and services to maximize their messaging investment toward customer engagement, loyalty, conversion and revenue achievement.
Messaging on premises, including at the point of purchase, is hallowed ground. Important insights are emerging as marketers wrestle with media strategy along the “communications continuum” that reaches the “audience of many” at one end of the scale toward engagement with an “audience of one” at the other.
“Paid” media is the mainstay of the “marketing industrial complex,” as advertisers seek to generate point-of-purchase traffic, brand awareness and commerce.
Operating within the “communications continuum,” many marketers are increasingly looking to their “owned” communications devices (such as their website, mobile app and on-premises dynamic signage) to achieve their re-visit, branding and merchandising goals. “Owned” media is activating loyalty and conversion while fueling earned media such as opt-in, referrals, positive word of mouth, “likes” and social media benefits.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) indicates that retail contributed $1.2 trillion in direct GDP in 2009 (including food services and drinking places) through 3.6 million establishments. 95 percent (or 3.42 million) are one-location businesses with 917,000 locations being multi-location retailers. Online retail is currently $176 billion, 3 percent of annual retail revenues, according to Forrester Research.
Dynamic place-based medium has its place in the Communication Continuum as both “paid” and “owned” media, and as a contributor to “transmedia,” which enables the optimal development, testing and use of digital media across various communications devices (i.e. TV, print, internet, mobile, etc.). Numerous budgeting “buckets” within the framework of “paid,” “owned” and “earned” media are applicable to the use of the dynamic, digital place-based medium. For example:
- Digital place-based networks are used as “paid” media to deliver compelling messages to highly targeted audiences in out-of-home locations. A directory of the 369+ Ad-based Digital Place-based networks will be released in October 2012. According to the 2010 Arbitron Digital Video Display Study, 70 percent of teen and adult U.S. residents view digital video displays monthly, an estimated 181 million people.
- Digital displays “owned” by retailers are used on premises to achieve branding, merchandising, upsell and cross-sell while improving the location visit experience and motivating “earned” media. Messaging is being tested and refined on “paid” out-of-home media and in-store “owned” media before being committed to “paid” media buys.
More importantly, digital place-based media enables transition to higher levels of marketing and communications value from “paid” to “owned” to “earned” through the messages presented in out-of-home locations where people shop, browse, travel, gather, work and study.
Engagement – “Bricks, Clicks and Picks” 70 percent of Americans shop multi-channel, including in-store, online and mobile. Retailers and brands are responding with a shift from transactional to experiential marketing, while assuring maximum “fidelity” – consistent brand messaging. The paradigm shift is occurring from multi-channel to “omni-channel” engagement, which reflects the melding of the engagement experience between the retailer/brand and the consumer.
Digital in-store media bridges “bricks” – the physical environment, “clicks” – online information and commerce, and “picks” – consumer selection and its influencers. It also turns “presence” into engagement.
According to a Deloitte retail industry survey, 71 percent of retail executives say that shoppers want a meaningful experience with the sales associate as brand ambassador with strong product knowledge and the ability to upsell and cross-sell for greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Many retailers speak of the need to improve their advertising plans to shift media buying investment away from “renting eyeballs” and into owning audiences. Many retail executives, including those of Ralph Lauren and Bonnie Brooks, CEO of The Bay, reinforce the priority of shifting to “brand demand” messaging from “brand awareness” involving more experiential and social media.
Every media must prove its value by “moving the needle” – by delivering clear and intended value. This typically includes generating action, improving the awareness of the brand and its attributes in generating brand aspiration, contributing to ambiance and pace through its use.
Retailers and brands are shifting to dynamic place-based media. “Paid” advertising is growing at 16 percent annually according to PQ Media, while overall industry growth, including “owned” digital place-based is growing at a 23 percent compound annual rate.
“We’ve used it – it works – let’s go!” In recognition that the medium works well when properly applied, end user executives are increasingly charging their staff and advertising agencies with integrating dynamic place-based media into their plans, campaigns and their services. The timing of this end-user executive focus is coincident with agencies’ struggles. As agencies offer niche services or are “service silo-ed,” they wrestle with media integration and their contribution to multi-channel, omni-channel marketing while being aware that their competitors are seizing new revenues through dynamic media.
Retailers that are operating or planning showcase locations are tapping into a wide range of digital engagement technologies to benefit from a “wow factor,” increase destination traffic and generate public relations profile, while also experimenting and generating shopper insights on approaches that could be broadly applied for higher return on communications investment.
“Us too!” use is occurring at a rapid rate as a natural response to consumer expectations and because its use is visibly evident by competing organizations. While the “innovators” and “early adopters” are sharing very little information about the business benefits that they have been deriving, the evidence of their success with digital place-based is evidenced by its increased use.
“Owned” media in the “paid-owned-earned” marketing media mix provides high value and high leverage of marketing communications investment.