How Innovation Changes The Ps Of Marketing
What innovations are on the horizon in the tech space, and how will this impact marketers? Contributor and former Googler Frederick Vallaeys explores the possibilities.
I recently spoke at the Internet Marketing Association’s annual conference on the topic of innovations that give consumers more time (and how this impacts marketing). I picked this subject because I recently read a quote from Larry Page, Google’s CEO, that really got me thinking:
[blockquote]If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy — housing, security, opportunities for your kids — anthropologists have been identifying these things… it’s not that hard for us to provide those things. The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I’m guessing less than one percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true.[/blockquote]
Larry’s not arguing that we only need to work one percent of the time, but he says that we could theoretically provide for all our basic needs in that amount of time. That one percent number may be a bit optimistic, but the underlying point seems valid: we need a lot less time than before to achieve an equivalent number of things.
When people need less time to provide for necessities, we have more leisure time, and what we end up doing with it is an important question for marketers to ponder. That’s because the answer to that question will almost certainly impact the products consumers want, and will also dictate when and where we have opportunities to market these products and how we spread the word.
Three of the four Ps of marketing are impacted by innovations that create new free time: place, promotion and product.
Innovations That Save Us Time
Thanks to technological innovations like the smartphone, consumers can do more with the limited time they have.
According to Google, people are moving in droves to take advantage of all this new time and doing more searches on mobile devices than on desktop computers in the US and nine other countries. Mobile is now the primary place where advertisers can connect with consumers at the moment they need something; it’s the moment of relevance.
Smartphones Create More Moments Of Relevance
When I started at Google in 2002, these “moments of relevance” were reserved for those times when we were sitting at our desks using a laptop or desktop computer. Now that more people have smartphones than toothbrushes, there are many more opportunities for consumers to have those moments of relevance — and for advertisers to connect with a quality lead.
This is largely driven by the fact that these moments can happen in different places (one of the four Ps of marketing).
One of my favorite examples is the locksmith who targets consumers who are locked out of their cars. By targeting mobile users located in areas where they are more likely to want help in a hurry because they don’t feel safe, and by increasing bids at night, when that sense of urgency is even greater, he’s able to run a very profitable PPC campaign in a way that simply wasn’t possible before the era of the smartphone.
Smartphones Enable Micro-Moments
In addition to giving us more moments when we can share our promotions, the smartphone is driving a shift in consumer behavior that has expanded the types of products consumers search for.
Google calls these micro-moments, and here’s an example: Whereas consumers used to have to set aside a good chunk of time to research bigger purchases like a new car or a mortgage for a house, now they are starting to take advantage of brief moments when they are not engaged in an activity that requires their undivided attention. That’s when they leverage their smartphones to do their research bit by bit.
No purchase is too large any longer to be initiated from a smartphone. As marketers, we need to be cognizant that consumers expect to be able to do more on their smartphones. If we are not present at all stages of the funnel during those micro-moments enabled by mobile devices, we will miss out on a lot of moments of relevance.
Because these micro-moments tend to take place inside the ecosystems of companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, it’s critical that we marketers pay close attention to new opportunities these companies give us to connect with our prospects. New ad formats from Google, like hotel ads and product listing ads, are good examples.
A traveler who just missed the last flight home will have a micro-moment where he or she will look for a nearby hotel on a smartphone, and viewing hotel ads is one of the quickest ways for consumers to see prices and locations near the airport.
With many options for convenient same-day delivery of products, a consumer who finds she’s run out of oatmeal at breakfast may have a micro-moment where she orders a new packet from Google Express as she stands in front of her pantry. In fact, the adoption of product listing ads by consumers is impressive, accounting for 32 percent of all PPC clicks for retailers, according to Merkle RKG’s Q2 2015 data.
Marketers Need To Change Expectations Of Measurement
With new consumer behaviors, marketers need new ways to measure this activity. A cornerstone of online marketing is its accountability and transparency, but we can no longer rely on simple conversion tracking where all transactions happen online and on one device.
Google is using innovations in location detection technology to provide reliable estimates of how many people visited stores after doing a search by looking at GPS and WiFi signal data; how many people made a purchase by tying into POS systems; and how many transactions resulted from a cross-device behavior by using logged-in user data to know when a consumer switches between devices.
Shifting how we think about conversions from an easy-to-measure, absolute thing to an estimate based on lots of data can be challenging, but we need to consolidate our view of the data with Google’s interpretation. Otherwise, we’ll be left behind by competitors who’ve already done this and who can now afford to pay more because they have a more complete picture of the value of online advertising.
Innovations Create New Time
Not only are consumers shifting their behavior to be more efficient with existing time, but also, innovations will give them new leisure time that didn’t exist before. For example, self-driving car company Google Auto, whose goal is to reduce car crashes, will give commuters significant new chunks of time when they can do something else besides pay attention to the road.
No longer will we need to waste 30 percent of our driving time looking for a parking spot in cities like San Francisco. When our cars can drive and park themselves, we’ll have more time for leisure.
The latest Google self-driving car was initially not qualified for road use because it lacked some of the things the law dictates a car must have, like a steering wheel, a gas pedal and a brake. If Google gets its way, we’ll see cars with just three buttons: “Go,” “Please Slow Down and Stop,” and “Stop Pretty Quickly.”
People being chauffeured around will have plenty of time to have new micro-moments where we marketers can connect with them. Even if Google’s car doesn’t become a reality, there are many others like Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, Uber and Apple who are also working to make a self-driving car a reality.
Drones Will Leapfrog Road Infrastructure
Self-driving cars will benefit the developed world, but a technology that could really improve people’s lives in the developing world are drones that solve the infrastructure problem. Rather than making huge long-term investments in building a great network of roads, it may make more sense for drones to handle transportation in areas with poor road conditions.
This is similar to what happened with communications, where it made more sense to skip laying landlines and instead build a mobile network.
There is now even an XPrize in the works for a human transporter, and this gentleman in the UK seems to be on the cutting edge with his drone that has enough lift to carry him off the ground.
It seems clear that drones will open up opportunities for commerce in markets where there previously was too much friction in the delivery systems. Additionally, we may one day zip to work in flying machines like the Jetsons, giving us back all the time traditionally wasted on congested roads.
Delivery Services Give Consumers More Time
Google’s same-day delivery service slaps this sticker on every bag: “Delivering you more free time.”
They’re in this business to try to win back consumers who are using Amazon as the de facto starting place for product searches, and consumers are the winners by getting back those Saturday mornings they used to spend running from store to store.
Once you experience the convenience of same-day delivery of virtually anything you need, it’s hard to imagine going back. Between getting fresh meals delivered at a reasonable price from Munchery, Gobble or Blue Apron, getting stuff from local stores you like and trust from Google Express, and getting everything else from Amazon Prime, there is no more reason for people to waste time leaving the house to buy stuff.
Health Breakthroughs Will Give Us All More Time — A Lot of It
The most significant innovations that will give consumers more time are yet to come from efforts made by life extension companies. It all started with 23AndMe, which analyzes genetic data to find patterns, and it continues with companies Calico, whose goal it is to extend human life.
Calico hopes to achieve this goal by applying big data analysis to more samples than was ever possible before and using their findings to counteract the things that cause aging. They also don’t want a traditional business model that provides relief rather than cures and requires consumers to buy pills for the rest of their lives rather than a product that fixes the underlying cause.
It’s not far-fetched to imagine that there will be breakthroughs in the next five years in this space that will add decades to all of our lives — new time that we didn’t have before.
Innovations For Marketers
The same big data analysis that will extend life is also applied to marketing. We now have automation and big data capabilities that let us do more in the same amount of time. For example, new technologies like AdWords Scripts are one of the most effective ways to automate routine tasks in AdWords. At Optmyzr, we build many of these automations for advertisers.
While automating what humans do is a big time saver, it still limits us to doing what we could figure out with our limited brains. Big data tools help us go further by sifting through petabytes of data to find insights that we simply couldn’t find manually. These new insights can then be automatically turned into more effective campaigns.
One great example of using technology to do something entirely novel uses the Google Prediction API. You can feed this system data about your online marketing results and any signals that you suspect may have an influence on these results, like the weather, the performance of the stock market, or your own business data. The system will then make instant predictions for future events.
At Google, we used the Prediction API to figure out which department would be able to answer a question submitted in a ticket. Because the system could make really good predictions, it was no longer necessary for humans to route the ticket to a different department, often getting it wrong and wasting a lot of time between when the question was asked and when the answer was provided.
Innovations In Human-Computer Interaction
Despite all the new time consumers are already saving, they still expect more gains in efficiency. Whether it’s same-day delivery or a natural language answer to a question at the dinner table, consumers expect technology to make life more convenient.
Google pioneered the concept of talking to one’s phone, but it was Siri who got all the attention, probably because it’s just cooler to ask a question to someone with a cool name like Siri or Cortana than Google Now. The younger generation, especially, is not afraid to use voice search even in the presence of others, and Google reports that 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults use voice search more than once per day.
Amazon took voice search a step further by putting it in the living room. The realization that consumers don’t necessarily want to pull out their phones to ask a question is simple but brilliant in my opinion. Amazon’s Echo is a speaker that sits in the house and can be activated simply by saying “Alexa” and then asking it any question you want.
Sadly, her search is powered by Bing, and she doesn’t have as many answers as Google, but she is brilliantly simple to use to play music, do basic searches, get sports scores, get news updates, set timers, add stuff to lists, and even turn on the lights in the house.
Google with its WiFi hub and Nest line of products can’t be too far away from introducing a device that can simply be spoken to without the need of physical touch to activate the listening mode. I have a Moto X phone that also is activated by voice, but even that device still requires that I remove it from my pocket before it’s ready to listen.
Tie in these new ways of interacting with computers with Google Now, and you could have something magical. Now uses everything it knows about you to show cards with useful information. Google has announced Now On Tap, which goes one step further by using the context of what you are doing to provide even more relevant results.
For example, if it sees you’re sending email to a friend about dinner plans at Reposado, it can open up the restaurant’s details in your favorite app, where you can quickly see the ratings, the menu, and even order take-out or reserve a table.
As you can see, there is a lot of innovation that’s creating more time for consumers and making existing time more efficient. Figuring out how to respond with new products and new ways to promote them should make life as a marketer exciting.