Four ways IoT is driving marketing attribution

Today’s intense competitive environment and high consumer expectations require marketers to develop more visionary and personalized campaigns. McDonald’s Japan 2016 McNOW campaign is an excellent case study, as it shows what’s possible when you know who your customers are, where they are, and how they behave.

The fast food restaurant chain developed an Automatic Live Banner Generator, by analyzing its sales data and combining them with everyday life data, such as location, time and weather conditions. The generator produced customized banner ads, providing personalized menu recommendations. Digital coupons with the recommended food items were delivered to individual smartphone users based on their circumstance, and were ready to be used at the nearest restaurant straight away.

By capturing real-time analytics — and by making these insights actionable — marketers have been able to achieve astoundingly disruptive engagements. With the emergence of a full-scale Internet of the Things (IoT), those capabilities will grow exponentially.

What kind of opportunities does that open for analytics-driven marketers? And what should they do today to reap the benefits of the IoT revolution? Here are four points that explore these questions:

  1. Disruptive data collection

With the ability to connect a data stream to traditionally “unconnected” objects, comes the promise of gathering more types of information. On the most basic level, the IoT means more touch points through which to acquire data. We tend to think of these “additional points” as simply more objects that can track consumers in the same old ways: mobile phones could gather motion and position information; now, chip-enabled sneakers and smart shirts can too. But the new opportunities of data collection aren’t just about more data points. As smart products proliferate and record data about everything consumers do in their physical lives, they’re learning more about their preferences and behavior.

  1. Real-time personalization

One clear benefit of knowing consumers so well is the level of personalization that’s possible.

In the age of IoT, personalization will play a crucial role. Buying decision will depend not only on the object itself but the digital service it offers. Whether it’s a fridge, television or a car consumer will expect the highest level of personalization and convenience. For example, a car might be evaluated on how responsive and relevant its app is. Would it notify the consumer on upcoming servicing, petrol level or even use location and individual-level insights to direct passenger to relevant stores on the way?

  1. Environment-based attribution

IoT promises to provide insights into the broader environment in which ads are delivered, not just about broad conditions and trends, but also about the specific place and specific customer an offering is served to. Environmental factors like competition actions, pricing changes, breaking news, the weather will help to evaluate marketing’s effectiveness more accurately.

As a result, IoT will provide answers to many questions that, until now, have been both highly critical and elusive. Is a billboard more effective in fast or slow traffic? Are consumers more responsive to sports advertising before or after a workout? Do coffee ads perform better with coffee drinkers who are tired, or who’ve had a good’s night’s rest? Marrying attribution analytics to information from location-based traffic updates, fitness or sleep trackers are providing answers in a state-of-the-art way.

  1. Toward a complete conversion path

Currently, marketers use two methods to follow a customer’s purchase paths - digital channels provide a detailed, yet still partial, a window into consumer behavior, while offline channels provide no direct insight into how consumers interact with a brand. As a result, marketers often misestimate the impact of their marketing efforts.

As we continue to shift to digital engagement via mobile devices, IoT and desktops, consumers’ digital footprints will continue to expand. Marketers will be able to see how customers react to all marketing engagements thanks to previously unconnected touch points joining the grid or proxy information gathered by smart devices. For instance, even if a billboard investment or a sponsorship activity can’t inform marketers how many pedestrians stopped to look at an ad, mobile location data can.

In today’s interconnected world marketers can follow the complete conversion path across every touch point and optimize their marketing efforts based on an entirely new view into how marketing influences sales.

Still in the infancy

We’re still in the infancy of IoT-enabled marketing. Part of the reason is that we’ve only just begun to see the kinds of objects that can become web-integrated, and the information they can process and report back. Another challenge lies in the fact that IoT is still at the point solution phase, making it difficult for real-world objects to slip easily into unified marketing campaigns.

The point solution problem is twofold. First, there is a lack of universal APIs, and therefore, systems that could integrate, don’t. The second issue at play is one of standards. Different applications record the same data by different parameters, for example using different field names to describe who a customer is. It’s hard to create coordinated experiences if sharing data across different objects requires a separate opt-in form at every point along the way.

Marketers themselves can’t solve these challenges – they need to wait for technology to catch up with the vision. However, they can help in steering today’s IoT along the right path. For one, they can push for data and privacy standardization across every connected device within their company and push their partners for more IoT- friendly open APIs. While it’s a heavy task as it calls for CMOs to become data and analytics champions in the organization, it’s worth the effort. After all, marketers want to create campaigns that will bring more customers directly to their stores.