“Moving forward, the device will be more important than channel” (Interview)

Nitin Rabadia Marin SoftwareCross-channel marketing offers ample opportunities for digital marketers, though it comes with a set of unique challenges as it calls for a major rethink in online strategies.

ClickZ spoke to Nitin Rabadia, director of audience marketing for cross-channel marketing platform Marin Software, to find out more about the future of cross-channel, the impact of multiple devices on consumer behaviours, and what marketers are getting wrong with the approach.

How is increased digital fragmentation affecting marketers’ cross-channel strategies? Does it present a challenge, an opportunity, or both?

It’s a challenge for advertisers, who traditionally set up their organisations on channel-specific verticals so they had separate teams that looked after social, search, display, and so on. Now they’ve had to change the way they work. Additionally, as customers aren’t limited to one channel, and they’re using various devices, it’s not as easy to track them effectively.

However, there are definitely big rewards for advertisers embracing a cross-channel strategy. Customers get a much better experience, and marketers save money, as they’re not spending too much on single users, who can now be identified and targeted across various channels as appropriate.

How does this increase in media fragmentation affect customers’ online behaviour?

Customers normally have preferred devices for different types of activity, for example, they’re still more likely to book high-value items on desktops. But where they do their research has really changed, moving from a desktop environment to the accessibility and convenience of mobile.

Advertisers have to think about what users are doing on each channel because they do behave differently depending on which device they’re on.

What opportunities does mobile hold for digital marketers and their cross-channel strategies?

In our latest mobile report, we found that users look at an average of five apps a day, and they spend 90% of their time on mobile in-app. We concluded that if that’s where users are, that’s where advertisers need to be as well.

Apps are a massive opportunity, but implementing a cross-device strategy with apps is still quite difficult, as they run on SDKs [software development kits], a different type of tracking solution from the cookie-based environment of mobile web and desktop.

In the Performance Marketer’s Retargeting Guide you found that marketers’ goals and strategies are not aligned – why do you think this is the case?

What we’ve found is that advertisers’ goals are typically based on what were previously the best ways of measuring performance, such as clicks and last clicks, as essentially that’s all there was. So they’re creating strategies aligned with driving last click sales, which absolutely isn’t the best way to do it, but it’s the only way they know how.

What we know from research is that display interactions and social interactions add two or three clicks to other paid channels. We need to talk about the value of using attribution so advertisers can start aligning their strategies to achieve their actual goals and stop working to a measurement metric that is outdated and flawed in many ways.

How can digital marketers make their cross-channel strategy more cohesive?

There are a lot of walled gardens being put up at the moment. The biggest publishers, such as Facebook and Google, will allow you to do cross-channel within their own network, but not necessarily outside. Advertisers should use that. They should work with the publishers that have that have clear cross-channel data of their own, and target the users that are on those publishers across those networks.

Creating a unique complete, comprehensive, cohesive cross-channel strategy is very hard work, but there are ‘shortcuts’ like this available in the market right now, and advertisers should be aware of where they are.

What does the future hold for cross-channel marketing? What new tech is making more sophisticated retargeting possible?

There are a number of interesting data collaborations happening in the market, and some providers are trying to build their own cross-channel user graphs, so we’ll start to see a bit more openness in data. The walled gardens won’t necessarily come down, but we’ll see more players who can connect them to each other. There’s also some interesting new tech out there, including Facebook’s new measurement solution Atlas which uses Facebook logins to identify cross-channel customers.

We’re definitely moving to a more accessible cross-channel market, but how quickly that moves is really down to the publishers and how soon they bring down their walled gardens.

However, at the moment, as users log in more freely across devices, we can use clever attribution and targeting to be far more sophisticated in exactly what ads we show and on what device for what user based on where they are in their journey.

The future is definitely bright for cross-channel. It’s just going to take us a few more years to come to fruition, like mobile did.

Is there anything else you feel that marketers and advertisers in the digital space should know?

There’s an important distinction to make between cross-channel and cross-device marketing. What we’ve seen is that separating users by channel or device isn’t really the best strategy: devices are essentially just screens, and channels are just the places those screens are.

If you’re on social on a mobile, how different is that from seeing a display ad on a mobile, or a video on a mobile? Facebook is becoming a place where you can watch videos and see display ads, and you might still see sponsored links, so essentially it’s a social platform that enables all those channels to appear on one device – we’re seeing a blend of channels now.

Digital advertising is becoming more about content and content type, how big the screen is, and what that screen needs to achieve. Going forward, the device is going to become a bit more important than the channel.

To find out more about the best practices for cross-channel success, check out Marin Software’s Performance Marketer’s Retargeting Guide.

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