Once Jumping the Gun, the Idea of Digital Driving Foot Traffic is Now a Reality

Richard_Stalzer It seems like not so long ago that brand marketers were downright skeptical about using digital to drive to store. There was a low level of faith that the capability could or would get them to where they needed to be. So, when planning, executing and evaluating their own performance, there were breaks in the picture. Any given plan for marketing across channels was built around silos.

Flash forward to today. Major brand marketers who previously had low confidence in cross-channel marketing and the ability to drive from digital to brick and mortar are not only more confident, but in 2014, they are bullish. As a result, this year, I believe they will re-allocate unprecedented large budget share to digital channels, including mobile, and then implement targeting and foot traffic tracking, as they drive to stores. Retail and Auto will lead the charge on this. We are seeing it already.

So what’s changed? First, there’s a higher state of readiness. With a move in the industry toward evaluating activity past the first click, and looking at the more meaningful second click—store locators and the like—there is cross-channel targeting mindset that most of us now have. We are thinking about how to target, serve and optimize along the consumer path, which we know moves across channels and platforms, all day long.

So, in a commercial environment, if a platform already allows advertisers to target consumers who have taken action beyond the initial click on a banner ad, imagine the added power of being able to track, understand, and optimize actions toward the ultimate objective—foot traffic. Optimization based on intent to purchase, and attribution of store visits, are capabilities that finally now exist and are especially appealing to retail, auto, entertainment and QSR brands. So, the marketer focused on these objectives has an immediate opportunity to get into this.

Secondly and at last, the data science and technology behind the capability have grown up. A system set up to deliver on these objectives, now begins by delivering mobile ads to only those consumers predicted to have the highest interest in the product or brand being marketed. Next, targeting is refined based on the “second click,” when consumers engage with those landing page features designed to capture purchase intent, such as store locator, looking up store hours, in-store offers or events. The technology would then identify when a device that has been served a targeted ad is later present at specified locations. And, this would be done without any personally identifiable information. Foot traffic is quantified as mobile users visit store, restaurant, dealer or theater locations following receipt of a targeted ad. Finally, a marketer can re-structure and optimize campaigns based on the ultimate conversion—foot traffic.

And the most compelling system will not rely on delivering a portion of the marketer’s ads to a pre-identified opt-in consumer panel that a marketer assumes reflects the behavior of a larger population.  In the best possible scenario, real ads are delivered to real prospects, and real foot traffic is captured and reported.

In many ways, without the data science and tech progress that we are now enjoying – the idea of cross-channel marketing has been a bit ahead of itself. Even jumping the gun. But, thanks to true progress, marketers are re-opening their mindsets and jumping into the state of the art: using digital, mobile especially, to drive, understand their foot traffic. We are there.

Richard Stalzer is the CEO of Voltari, a company that develops predictive analytical solutions for the mobile space. Look for his piece on The Makegood each month.