Blis | Cortana, Alexa, Siri, Google Now: Marketer’s New Best Friends?

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Cortana, Alexa, Siri, Google Now: Marketer’s New Best Friends?
Alex Wright

How do voice activation services affect location data’s relationship with advertising and marketing?

Voice activations services and AI-driven virtual assistants are having a moment. While Siri has been around the longest, Alexa and OK Google have made strides to surpass her in popularity. And what Cortana lacks in popularity, it apparently makes up for in accuracy, so we mustn’t forget to include Microsoft’s entry to the field.

While these services may be associated with Echo and Google Home-type connected devices, they have their roots in mobile, and are used with increasing regularity on smartphones. They’re also used largely for search: a recent survey of 1000 users of AI assistants found that 63 percent of them use it for search. Last year, Google reported that a full 20 percent of its mobile queries were voice searches, and comScore predicts that half of all searches will be led by voice within the next three years.

It seems then, that this is a trend a marketer should pay attention to. Most marketers consider search engine optimisation part of their basic toolkit anyway; certainly marketers should continue that work and keep an eye out for strategies to improve their results in voice search as well as traditional SEO. It’s helpful that Google is re-confirmed as the search engine for Apple, so optimising for Google will kill two birds with a single stone.

Consider that each device and virtual assistant seems to be evolving towards a different use case. OK Google on the mobile is more closely associated with information and utility. Users call on it to find the nearest barber shop or the best route home on a busy day. While only in the UK for a year now, Alexa seems locked to the housebound Echo devices currently, and used more entertainment. Friends rely on Alexa to tell them who won the Oscar in 1972, or what the weather’s like in Budapest today. (It’s also worth noting the growing trend of tots who love to yell “Alexa, stop!” as soon as Alexa beings delivering responses to Mummy and Daddy. Fun!) That said, Alexa users will recognize that Amazon has been promoting the Alexa app more heavily of late, which will help raise its profile – and usefulness – out of the home.

Amongst my friends and colleagues, Siri is most used for finding songs (particularly in its nascent iOS 11 incarnation) and other Apple-related tasks, for example, “Siri, FaceTime Mom.” And Cortana – well, I don’t actually know many people who use Cortana. But now that we know how accurate it is, perhaps its popularity will grow! (It has 133 million users currently, compared to more than a billion boasted by OK Google.)

To make the most of voice activation, marketers really need to think about how search behaviour has changed in recent years. Google reports that searches including the term “near me” grew 130 percent between 2014 and 2015. More importantly, searches for local businesses without the “near me” qualifier have increased over 150 percent in the last two years, on the understanding that proximity is implied, and therefore expected in the results returned.

While this is great news – and low hanging fruit – for local businesses like restaurants and nail salons, what does it mean for global brands? Does voice search give consumers an even easier path of least resistance to start their product searches? It’s quite simple to say, “Alexa, what are the best running shoes?” Or, “OK Google, what’s the best 4K television?” But how will artificial intelligence quantify “best?”

It’s a question that is probably costing brand marketers lots of sleep. They need to ensure that their products make those initial short lists. I suspect Alexa will prioritize products by Amazon user reviews, but how will Siri, Cortana, and Google define “best” in those searches? There may be a whole new market for SEO specialists and sponsored search – particularly for devices that have no screen. No one will want Alexa or Siri rambling off a ten-item list of products.

I can’t predict what will happen next in this space, but I can guarantee that it will be exciting – particularly as Google Home and Apple’s HomePod enter the market, and as Alexa gets her first screen. We shall see!

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Alex Wright is Head of Insights at Blis. He has spent a decade working in insight roles across a diverse range of media owners in radio, print and cinema, and most recently at OMD International where he was the EMEA Insight Lead on the Google account. His experience has given him a wide-ranging view of consumer behaviour in the context of media consumption. Alex uses this perspective to understand the role mobile location data can play in audience profiling, as well as in the planning and execution of campaigns as part of a consumer's wider media repertoire.

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Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa

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Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa

Question 1: How long have you been at RSi and what is your role?
For the past three years, I have been responsible for creating and scaling Ansa, a web-based solution from RSi – Retail Solutions, Inc., that has enabled over 75 of the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies to build, measure and maximize the performance of their shopper marketing campaigns running in support of the nation’s leading retailers. I am responsible for all aspects of business development, partner and agency relationships and the overall revenue growth of Ansa.

Question 2: How does RSi help solve marketer challenges?
Shopper marketers’ biggest challenge is to connect their online campaigns to in-store results. RSi’s Ansa solution provides the intelligence they need, based on daily, store-level POS-data from the largest US retailers in order to plan, target, and measure the impact of their shopper marketing campaigns. Retail Solutions Inc. has partnered with the leading ad networks in Shopper Marketing, such as Blis, to make Ansa’s automated analytics available for the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies. To measure and maximize their digital ad campaigns, all they need to do is ask for Ansa inside their next campaign.

Question 3: What benefits does the partnership with Blis bring to buyers as well as the adtech ecosystem?
With RSi’s Ansa solution, building, dynamically optimizing, and reviewing attribution measures for every digital ad campaign has never been so simple. Here is how it works:
1. STORE-LEVEL TARGETING: automatically get from Ansa your store targeting data as store addresses, lat/longs or by Ansa Digital ZIPs to identify stores with the greatest sales potential prior to launching hyper-local media.
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3. MEASUREMENT & INSIGHTS: get access via the online portal to end of campaign analysis just days after the media campaign is over. Visualizations give you a standardized set of analytics, such as sales lift, incremental dollars and units, confidence level, weekly lift, characteristics of high performing stores, etc. Prove and improve your media to help you fine-tune strategies for your future campaigns.

Question 4: What are use cases for the Blis + RSi partnership? (Please provide a few examples from different verticals).
If you are a shopper marketer, maximizing your budgets, understanding performance of your marketing tactics and generating key learnings from those marketing tactics are tasks that are essential to your business.

Running a digital marketing campaign with Blis, and Ansa’s daily, store-level sales intelligence helps make that extremely for the CPG community and shopper marketers specifically.

For existing products, Blis campaigns using Ansa targeting can reach a targeting efficiency of 2:1 vs. campaigns that do not use Ansa store-level targeting thereby ensuring that every dollar is spent driving sales to your most important retailer locations.

Blis campaigns optimized with Ansa typically identify and heavy up investment around 16% of stores that are trending significantly ahead of the average store during a campaign and identify and decrease investment around 14% of stores that are trending significantly behind the average store, therefore ensuring that your budget is being optimized surrounding stores that are over-performing during a given campaign.

After each Blis campaign, Ansa automatically generates measurement of Featured Item Lift and Halo Item Lift at both the total event and week levels. Results are completed 5 business days after the end of each campaign and allow you to learn quickly and improve continuously, all at an amazingly affordable price.

Question 5: What shopper marketing measurement trends do you predict for 2018?
Optimization in-flight based on store sales trends during campaign. Optimizing on engagement, intent and / or clicks may be ok for some campaigns but more and more frequently shopper marketers are tasked with driving sales at their most important retailers. And understanding how their marketing tactics performed 5-6 weeks after a campaign has finished is just not fast enough anymore in today’s fast paced world and puts media providers at a severe disadvantage. By utilizing automated reporting that allows Ansa partners like Blis to understand and optimize their media in-flight based on daily, store-level POS sales data you now empower your media partner to act on supporting the stores that are driving your product sales which can ultimately provide a powerful boost to a shopper marketing campaign.

Question 6: If there was one piece of content you think every marketer should read, what is it?
(Other than this blog post of course!)

Think with Google and Facebook IQ are two fantastic sources of resources. Articles, trends, case studies, POVs, insights, etc… pretty much everything you need to read to keep you up-to-speed in this very fast-paced environment.

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Our mobile devices give us more than just a way to call or text friends and family: Today, they are our maps, books, radios, and miniature shopping malls. We turn to them for news, entertainment and answers. And from dawn till dusk, we keep them at our sides like our most faithful companions.

So it’s no wonder mobile devices have become integral to an advertiser’s ability to reach their ideal audiences at every stage of the sales funnel. Here’s how brands can employ effective mobile advertising strategies to acquire, engage and retain customers.

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One of the best ways for advertisers to identify new audiences is to see where they shop. But without access to a competitor’s first-party purchase data or information about their website traffic, how can advertisers find this out?

Mobile devices provide the answer. By revealing where consumers go, mobile location data can tell brands which consumers spend their time browsing similar products at a competitor’s store. Let’s say Target wants to reach out to consumers who usually shop at Walmart. They can use location data to identify—then target—those who frequently visit the competitor yet still live near a Target store.

But brands need to be careful before jumping to conclusions about consumers. Real-time location data provides important insights, but they can be strengthened when paired with historical location data.

For example, just because someone visits a high-end boutique like Chanel, it doesn’t mean that person has the budget to shop there—they could just be browsing. How can an upscale fashion brand find out which of those Chanel visitors are actually potential shoppers? Here, historical location data can help. It can reveal, for instance, which of those visitors go to private airports a few times a month or regularly visit Giorgio Armani or Versace stores. Chances are, these consumers will be a better bet for the fashion brand seeking to acquire new customers.

Keep Them Interested

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For most of us, it’s look at our phones to turn off our alarms before checking the weather and scrolling through our Twitter feeds. And throughout the day, we continue to stare down into the faces of our mobile devices: checking the news on the train, sending an email between meetings, or watching videos from our living room sofas.

In order to engage consumers on the devices we use day in and day out, advertisers will need to serve ads that make sense for the consumer depending on where they are during the day. To do this, advertisers must first ask the question: What do consumers want to see on their mobile devices and when? Consumers spend a third of their time online watching videos, for instance, but they aren’t going to watch a 30-second video ad while walking down the street.

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Inspire Loyalty

How can brands make sure they retain the new and existing customers they’ve worked so hard to gain? They must first recognize and show appreciation for their most loyal customers.

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Interested in understanding how to connect mobile experiences to physical stores? Or how mobile can be the extension of a retailer’s store? Maybe you’ve wondered about the new Cost-Per-Visit metric? Look no further. Blis’ location data experts will be answering these questions on a weekly basis over the next few months in our ‘Retail Series’ which aims to equip retail marketers with the right insights and top tips to stay ahead of the game.

Following its decision to buy e-commerce company Jet.com last year, Walmart recently agreed to acquire Bonobos, a retailer with a strong online presence and generous shipping policies. If these moves weren’t sign enough that the physical and digital retail worlds are merging, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the ultimate wake-up call.

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Sometimes, targeting consumers when they are walking by a store may be a little too late. A QSR wanting to boost its 10 am breakfast crowd, for instance, may want to target consumers when they wake up around 7a and begin planning their day. Otherwise, the consumer has most likely already made their breakfast choice.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for retailers looking to connect with consumers and drive in-store sales, a strong mobile strategy is key. As the digital and physical worlds continue to blend, retailers must harness the insights and capabilities of mobile to reach their unique brand objectives.

Tune in next week to read all about how mobile is fast becoming the extension of a retailer’s store.

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