The Power Of Real-Time Display For Back-To-School
While many schools have recently let students out for summer break, back-to-school (BTS) shopping is already top of mind for marketers.
This season, eMarketer estimates about $50B will be spent on retail e-commerce sales, including a wide range of products and categories from apparel and electronics to school and office supplies.
eMarketer’s recent report explains that the main buying season for back-to-school shopping is July and August, as 96% of parents expect to have completed the majority of their purchases by the end of the summer.
However, the data also reveal that most BTS product research actually happens before the end of July. Therefore, the consideration phase and optimal time for marketers to get their consumers’ attention before it’s too late is now.
Real-time buying and programmatic platforms provide retailers with an efficient and effective way to capitalize on these seasonal purchasing patterns. As you can imagine, the amount of data pertaining to back-to-school buying is running rampant across the web.
Consumers are researching products, reading product reviews, and searching online for the best BTS deals. This stream of real-time information helps predict consumers’ intent to purchase.
Many marketers rely heavily on their own site-level data for their real-time campaigns, but a majority of intent data lives outside of the brand’s environment. By only using site behaviors, brands are limited in their ability to get in front of their audience earlier in the purchasing cycle and put themselves at risk of missing the opportunity to acquire those customers.
Look At Data On A Continuum
A majority of consumers are not waiting by their phone, TV and desktops for information to fall in their lap. They are looking for what they need on their own, through searches across the web, engagement on social networks, reading articles and perusing content.
As they embark on these journeys for whatever they might be after, there is a data trail, which for retailers is extremely powerful in terms of turning them into customers. Data moves on a continuum and for every customer, it constantly changes and evolves.
Retailers need to be nimble in order to adapt to these changes instantly and deliver messages that are relevant and impactful enough to influence the consumer along their path to purchase.
Feature Your Products
Using site and search behaviors for real-time targeting is only half of the equation. It helps you refine your real-time targeting strategy for customers that might be more likely to purchase and helps you programmatically determine the value of a customer. But, using data to customize the actual creative in a way where it might feature a product that a consumer has recently viewed or researched online sweetens the deal.
BTS season is a huge event for retailers to push products off shelves and a perfect opportunity for marketers to test dynamic creative. Personalizing the creative message with text and/or an image of a product creates highly relevant experiences for your audiences.
And for marketers, it enables them to efficiently produce multiple creative messages, in real-time. This means that a company like Staples, which sells so many products for the BTS season, can dynamically optimize creative elements of an ad to feature a sale on a specific product that a customer may have searched for or viewed online.
The end result is that the ad itself might look very different for the customer that searched for “sales on school backpacks” compared to the customer that is in market for an electronic-related BTS product, such as a tablet.
Not All Audiences Are Created Equal
The beauty of using programmatic marketing with real-time advertising is that it allows you to take the approach that not all customers are equal, letting you optimize your media spend at the user level. Buying audiences as opposed to content enables the machinery to make instant decisions based on specific attributes, which helps both big and small box retailers create highly efficient and effective BTS customer acquisition strategies.
If your algorithm can tell you that one consumer is more likely to purchase than another, then that user is of greater value. And, in the real-time buying universe, prices are dynamic, which means you may bid more for a customer that has previously purchased an item or that has recently searched for your competitors’ products.
Additionally, you might find that specific audiences convert at different times of the day or week, and from there refine your media strategy to reach consumers at the optimal times of the day/week. The ability to make all of these marketing changes and optimizations in real time greatly increases a marketer’s chance to influence and get in front of their customer, especially for seasonal initiatives like BTS when the time to purchase has a shelf life.
Coupled together, real-time marketing and intent data make it possible for marketers to serve as personal shoppers, delivering information when the customer shows intent. As the e-commerce world becomes more and more cluttered and consumers increase their time spent searching and researching on their own, marketers can no longer afford to ignore the value that time and relevancy bring to their advertising strategy. School might be out, but shopping is in.
Stock image used with permission of Shutterstock.com
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