Commentary

Buying Entire Purchase Journeys On Mobile Devices

I’ve heard the job of a media planner described as an aggregator of audiences. We aggregate audiences, recommend a plan to clients comprised of audiences and then negotiate the plan. That’s a super simplistic explanation of what we do, which is much more complicated, interesting, creative and fun.

But the core of what we did has always been to aggregate audiences to serve them paid messages.

Mobile has disrupted that too. Now, because of mobile, we can start to aggregate entire purchase journeys instead of just audiences. Instead of aggregating audiences and predicting where they are in the purchase journey using content as proxies, we can use one channel and data to more precisely identify their intent to buy.

Historically, we would reach customers in a variety of different media accumulating reach along the way, and only after the sale was closed (which could take a month!) did we know we delivered a customer. We would use TV to drive awareness, magazines to drive familiarity, newspapers and search for consideration and point-of-purchase to close the sale. Now, we can deliver that entire journey on mobile.

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Mobile has made it much easier to build plans that introduce prospects to a brand and shepherd them all the way to purchase. Mobile has the reach, the scale, the measurement and the mechanisms to easily convert customers. And I would argue that the one-channel environment accelerates the whole process by making it much easier to discover new products and purchases.

Now we need publishers and media companies to realize the opportunity and start selling purchase journeys instead of just audiences, which are typically sold in the form of clicks, impressions and unique visitors.

I was meeting with a giant media company that is very digital-centric and now delivers a majority of their audience through mobile, and I was talking to them about this idea. They loved it, and I really hope they start responding to RFPs this way.

The process could work like this:

DISCOVER: Imagine if publishers submitted a plan that explained how they were going to reach new prospects -- people who were unaware of the product. They could use first-party data to identify prospects. They could also use data that indicates a customer is a heavy user of competing product and therefore a light user of my client’s product.

FAMILIARITY:  Then after a series of exposures and actions, they measured how well their audience understood the brand’s benefits. Maybe they were able to find the same users in articles that demonstrated that the user was exploring the intricacies of the product’s features.

CONSIDERATION: After some time in these contextually relevant placements, ads were served in "shopping" environments further down the funnel.

BUY: Then customers were served a buy button or a link to an online retailer. Of course, all of this exposure was delivered easily on a mobile device.

Most media companies won’t be able to deliver the entire purchase journey, but they will be able to place themselves along it and help media strategists better understand where their particular site falls along the journey.

Facebook is probably one of the best examples of a publisher that can identify an audience along their entire journey -- and they can deliver the journey through their Newsfeed (watch what happens when their buy button is widely rolled out). Pinterest can easily deliver Discover, Familiarity and Consideration and their buy button is also getting major interest. Snapchat is doing a very good job (and will get even better) at Discovery and so is Pandora.

These giant mobile media companies -- more affectionately known as Apps -- can reach 99% (and that’s only because no one reaches everyone) of millennials. And much of that reach is on mobile devices.

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