As anyone with older kids or teenagers will attest, there is no longer any such thing as ‘offline’ and ‘online’. There is only ‘online’ or ‘asleep’. And this change in consumer habits means performance marketing has also undergone a massive shift.
It isn’t just about the delivery platform any more, either – they’re all online in some way or another. It’s actually about understanding and tapping into the environments the messaging is delivered into.
Unlocking growth by understanding the consumer's environment (and their mindset)
The key for brands looking to unlock growth in performance marketing is to understand consumers’ environments – namely why they are there, in as much detail as possible at the moment of approach – and tailor their messaging to fit that environment.
Take drivers, for example. The average motorist in the UK spends more than nine hours a week in their car – outside of work it’s difficult to think of anywhere you might spend as much time sitting in one place, in one position while also concentrating on one thing. The sofa, maybe, while bingeing a box set? Or the pub, perhaps, if it’s been one of those weeks.
The car is essentially a captive space. But this doesn’t mean it’s a simple one to reach. Drivers are often late, stressed, distracted or concentrating. To understand that environment you need to know the context of why the driver is there and the mindset they are in. We call this the customer mission.
With the right technology, data analysis, contextual knowledge (the time of day, day of the week, how long they have been in the car, how close they are to their home) and good old human intelligence, you can work out not just where they are, but where they are going, why they are going there and even what mood they are in. A regular commute, weekly shopping trip, late-night food run or journey to the airport for a well-deserved holiday are different customer missions that all create different mindsets.
Think about your own commute. Your mindset driving to work on Monday is vastly different from your drive home on Friday. This knowledge allows brands to connect with this audience on the go, using smart signals to inform how they approach them in this unique environment. As long as the messaging is useful, helpful and fits with the customer mission, targeting people in their cars is the essence of performance marketing.
James Devine, digital lead at OMD for McDonald’s, says: "We’re always looking for tactical ways to reach our audience effectively and this often means finding ways to align with key moments in the right environment. Waze provides a platform that helps us to drive a measurable, direct response by offering a platform to reach potential customers during their journey and directly encourage visitation. I mean, what better way to promote locations than native placements on a GPS map as drivers pass by?"
Brand building vs performance – why they are no longer mutually exclusive
One of the biggest challenges of performance marketing is being able to balance brand-building and performance. If you can tailor your creative to mirror the environment in which it’s received, and make sure that it is useful and helpful, then targeting drivers allows you to do both.
For me, the next stage of performance marketing is for brands to be able to see exactly when a consumer’s mind has been affected by their ad and changed their behaviour – for example, getting a consumer to adapt their mission and add another stop to their journey. This means we’re able to incorporate a new brand touchpoint along a journey, giving that retailer the opportunity to become a destination for the consumer. Instantly relaying this change to the client lets them see the direct effect their message has had. When targeting drivers, we call these reroutes.
Devine says: "By dialling up the context further to capture driver moments, such as targeting a staycation or late-night audience, we have seen significant incremental reroutes. "We can now see how connecting with drivers on the road can directly influence footfall to our restaurants. Waze provides greater cut-through compared to other inventory sources. We’re also looking into opportunities further up the funnel where we can ‘own moments’ like driving home for Christmas."
This doesn’t mean that you can’t deliver brand-building, though. By delivering constant messages in the right environment over time, even if they don’t lead to reroutes, consumers are becoming ever-more aware of that brand on their map, increasing brand perception and recall and delivering more reasons for them to visit at a later date.
"Every day on Waze there are over 50,000 navigations to different destinations. By applying context and being present at specific times of need, we can influence our slice of this pie," says OMD’s James Devine.
"For example, with our late-night, always-on activity, 21% of drivers that engage with McDonald’s between 9pm and 5am reroute to these sponsored locations on Waze. This equates to 25,000 journeys a month."
"We have seen market share of total journeys to QSR/CDR increase by up to 23% index points compared to when McDonald’s is offline on Waze. Before Waze, OOH and radio were the only channels where McDonald’s could engage drivers on the go."
Finlay Clark is UK country manager at Waze