Prior to the pandemic, retail-driven verticals like QSR, consumer electronics, beauty & fashion, and auto, among many, relied on physical locations for 90% of sales. While near-universal shelter-in-place edicts across the U.S. certainly drove many consumers online, the spike in e-commerce sales that many brands have experienced over the past few months will eventually level off.
In my estimation, we can predict physical sales to eventually return to near pre-pandemic levels when all is said and done. Brands’ moves towards true omnichannel marketing with a hyper-local focus will drive this return.
Omnichannel Marketing and Attribution is Foundational
The current crisis hasn’t knocked the mobile phone off its throne as the center of the modern consumer’s personal universe. Regardless of whether a person is out-and-about or in a static position under lockdown, the mobile phone remains an extension of the person.
It is important to recognize, however, that people are still greatly impacted by and engaged with the array of all ad-supported channels. When the goal becomes all about driving
incremental traffic to stores, it’s good to remember that not every action or impulse is inspired by mobile or even display ad. TV ads (addressability is becoming ever more possible for both linear TV as well as CTV/OTT) and billboards (OOH is increasingly sold in programmatic auctions) can also drive footfall. Even digital audio is becoming a fixture. One report showed that OOH paired with mobile drove 2.5x more traffic than if you used each channel separately. In fact, major players like IPG are laying the groundwork for addressable omnichannel campaigns.
As for campaign attribution, no longer must brands suffer the shortcomings of last-click attribution or the more advanced, yet still lacking, multi-touch attribution models of the recent past. The centrality of the mobile device has also given multi-touch attribution a major boost. A consumer’s mobile device is always on and attuned to personalizing content. As long as consumers opt-in, mobile can truly measure all channels including billboards and TV shows. One benefit is that traditional media-mix modeling will increasingly be done on a hyperlocal level.
Privacy-First location targeting is gaining traction
The efficacy of location targeting was never an issue; the scalable challenge was about how to apply it and respect consumer privacy. After some initial growing pains, the location technology community—in no small part fueled by the regulatory momentum created by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)—has stepped up its game to both protect and enhance the consumer experience.
In fact, location targeting technology offers brands the ability to be even more granular by taking an even more precisely circumscribed approach in slicing and dicing localities that map with their physical locations. In so doing, you might wind up with wide disparities on spend from market to market, which seem jarring at first. But at the end of the day, you’ll wind up with better efficiency and fulfillment of pre-campaign KPIs.
Sure, brands will still have to plan and execute national marketing and ad campaigns, but even when the coronavirus contagion of 2020 is well in the rearview mirror, local marketing will remain a more central strategy for brands with physical stores and they will have even more viable channels at their disposal to reach customers.