The Role Of Mobile In The Omnichannel Purchase Journey

By Naghi Prasad

Originally published on MediaPost.

Smartphone, tablet, connected TV, wearable device, desktop and laptop: what do these all have in common? They are all channels that make up the modern shopper’s purchase journey. Yet the biggest challenge faced by advertisers today is being able to understand the customer journey across these devices and deliver personalized content that is relevant, optimized and seamless across them all.

Mobile uptake, in particular, is on the rise and proving to be the strand that ties the rest of the journey together. Consider this: in 2014, global mobile traffic increased by 69%, and shows no sign of stopping. As consumer habits change, so the market changes with them. Research from comScore shows that in the past year, mobile commerce jumped 28% to $31.6 billion, outpacing desktop ecommerce growth, which grew by 13% to $236.9 billion.

We can see from these findings that while desktop ecommerce still owns the lion’s share of the market, mobile ecommerce is making swift gains to catch up. The same report from comScore shows that while mobile commerce is growing at more than twice the rate of desktop ecommerce, it accounts for 60% of digital retail engagement as measured by time spent — but only 13% of dollars. Clearly, there’s an opportunity here to convert some of that engagement into sales.

With research also showing that 86% of global consumers use more than two channels to complete a purchase, mobile cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Today’s user journeys are multidevice and multichannel. Both desktop and mobile channels are valuable components of the customer journey that need to be addressed individually, yet as parts of a greater whole. The conversion funnel is becoming cross-device, and that is creating a disruption poised to change the landscape of online commerce as we know it. How can marketers win in this new environment?

For starters, they need to pay attention to the mobile monetization gap. Marketers already know they must optimize the funnel to achieve conversion yet many still haven’t even optimized their websites or landing pages for mobile. Similarly, many mobile ads are still un-engaging, poorly targeted and disjoined from the rest of the customer journey. Mobile ads are not desktop ads on a smaller screen. This approach results in diminished viewability, which leads to poor consumer engagement and fails to drive ROI.

Targeted reach is another area that needs attention. Mobile ad spend is expected to reach $40.2 billion by 2016. In order to ensure their budgets are spent well, marketers need to make sure that they understand their target customers’ patterns and how to best use the data they are able to glean. Today, there is more data being processed than ever before, largely because of the advances in data processing technologies that make it possible to do more with less.

The fact that vast amounts of data can quickly and cost-effectively be processed opens the door for more relevant and personalized advertising. The challenge for marketers is to be able to effectively tie together the different data strands that originate from the cross-device user journeys.

One of the most effective ways to do so is to glue together probabilistic and deterministic user data to derive a cross-device user graph with reach and accuracy. This enables marketers to identify and reach consumers across devices at scale. This methodology also allows for cross-channel attribution, which not only optimizes campaigns and improves ROI, but also delivers advertising that is more sophisticated, relevant and increasingly personalized to each customer.

As advertisers continue to navigate today’s complex mobile landscape, there will be winners and losers — harkening back to the initial ecommerce revolution in the early 2000s. The stakes for advertisers to truly understand the omnichannel journey have never been higher — but with the right insight and tools, neither have the opportunities.

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