Google Is Pushing An Omni-Channel Mindset. Are You Ready?

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heather-pidgeon-ddt“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is by Heather Pidgeon, VP of Services at iProspect.

Imagine seamlessly delivering relevant content to customers and prospects based on their location, historical behavior, and current actions. Content that removes the boundaries and friction that interrupt engagement with your brand. Content that influences customer behavior. An omni-channel marketing strategy is the next evolution in customer acquisition, conversion, and retention and something marketers across all verticals should be working towards. A seamless experience, no matter how they encounter a brand, is the expectation of today's real world customer.

Take the example of a leading online retailer. On their well merchandised and personalized website, a customer sees a promotion code for 20% off online orders. The customer doesn't convert at that time because they have to run an errand. While they have down time, they pick up their mobile phone expecting to find the same promotion showcased on the website… but do not. This causes frustration and increases the possibility of loss in conversion simply because they are unable to use the promotion code on their mobile device. This is a result of a channel specific strategy, opposed to an omni-channel strategy that would ensure a seamless experience, no matter where they are accessing the website.

With Google's announcement of Enhanced Campaigns, marketers are forced to start thinking more in line with an omni-channel strategy. The changes offer advertisers new bid management features based on a customer's location, device, and time of day and are aimed to simplify AdWords account structures and help advertisers identify and optimize toward new opportunities for success in a multi-device world.

That's the upbeat view.

The changes have also drawn a flurry of negative opinions – in particular the removal of the device targeting functionality. Advertisers will no longer be able to target or exclude devices (desktops, smartphones, tablets) at the campaign level -- all keywords will trigger ads across all devices. That includes a loss of tablet-specific options, and so brands will be forced to re-create a mobile strategy in a new format. And advertisers who do not have a smartphone strategy will be forced to come up with one.

Google's announcement has not been met with open arms (to put it nicely), which leads me to contemplate: Is it "forced fun" or a true game changer?

From the marketer's perspective, the changes within Google can be viewed as exciting, forcing the move towards an omni-channel world. Or it can be viewed as a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing.

Migrating to this new structure will cause some agony simply because it's different. Enhanced Campaigns will shift our thinking towards that of a channel-agnostic, relevance-based and customer-centric strategy. We will need to reevaluate messaging and closely manage the device integration – even when updating ad copy it will need to be thought of in terms of the campaign, no longer looking at things channel-by-channel or per device, but rather where the customer is. It's now about delivering a seamless experience regardless of how people are shopping.

Enhanced campaigns challenges us as marketers to step out of our comfort zone - our siloed world – and think about how to approach a device-agnostic world. Savvy marketers always knew this is a direction that was important to work towards. Despite it being inconvenient and painful, we now have to make the change a little faster than we may be comfortable with.

This new approach that we'll have to take, whether we like it or not, will inevitably cause us to think of the consumer first and adjust our approach accordingly.

Follow Heather Pidgeon (@heatherpidgeon) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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