While marketers still struggle to find ways to define and measure customer behaviour across devices, mobile is allowing them to connect the dots in the offline world. Combining factors such as location and point of purchase data is allowing them to understand the final mile and deliver more accurately targeted, relevant messaging. However, just because they can does not always mean that they should.

March 2015

Marketers were excited when they first realised they could track the customer online, discover their preferences and capture their data. But the bubble soon burst when the customer logged off. They became invisible. Customer journeys, reactions to ads so easily followed and measured online became sheer conjecture in the offline world.

Mobile is lighting that invisible consumer back up, giving marketers the vital insights they need to tighten up their offline activity. "Mobile is the ultimate contextual device. Device ID, app ID, latitude and longitude giving placement - you have a lot of information with which to start a conversation," notes Kirk McDonald, President of PubMatic.

Being able to provide levels of customer data without an initial need for transactional data is key. "The opportunity is for personalisation based on customer data, whether that's in proximity to or actually in-store," adds DoubleClick's Head of Network Agencies, Andy Milahop. He adds that brands will be able to harness the power of purchasing history and individual's customer lifetime value in the offline environment.

Of course, this assumes that the customer journey is linear and finite. Andy goes on to suggest that customers can be intelligently retargeted following an offline store visit or even simply from passing outdoor advertising. It is, to his mind, the true expression of omnichannel and, he points out, has significant implications for programmatic ad serving.

The potential of mobile is still to be fully-realised by brands and industry experts explored the possibilities at Adweek Europe 2015.

Location-based mobile marketing has, to date, suffered from the impression that it is limited to throwing discount offers at passing potential customers. Havas Media Chief Development Officer Darren Goldie suggests that this means marketers are focusing on mobile as a tool for prospecting rather than retention, a focus that he proposes is misguided.

"Mobile has not been that important in [customer] prospecting but will be fundamental on the retention side. Customer relationship management (CRM) and media buying will change, point of sale (POS) will change."

Darren insists that there should be a shift into how marketers approach mobile data garnered in the so-called offline environment to suit the needs of prospecting and retention.

Prospecting will be based on aggregated, anonymised data that can be used at scale to identify group behaviours and opportunities, while retention will focus on data at a granular level, highly personalised with opt in/out opportunities.

While questions remain over the privacy and willingness of customers to share data, such information could lead to a future where online personalised advertising and dynamic product offers migrate offline. At some point, will a mobile consumer enter a store to be offered products at a price personal only to them?

A Minority Report-type world of hyper-local personalised messaging has long been depicted as one future for brands and advertising. For consumers to accept this though, marketers must act in their interests. Andy concludes: "The value exchange is on context and relevancy. It comes down to leveraging data in an intelligent way."