Today, the online session as we know it is over - we no longer "go online", we live online; always on, always connected. The proliferation of mobile devices has made it easier to find, to do, to watch or to buy what we want, when we want. And for marketers, there has never been a better opportunity to attain the holy grail of reaching the right person with the right message at the right time, every time.
In the past three years alone, multi-screen media consumption has increased by 500%, with 90% of web users moving between devices to complete a task, whether it's to shop, plan a trip or browse content1. Essentially, more devices means more time online, and more time online means more consumer moments, moments which extend beyond just keeping up with email or checking in with friends. Now there are ever more intent and passion driven moments where consumers are looking for inspiration or information, discovering new things, or making decisions - we refer to these as 'moments that matter'.
These are the 'I want-to-watch moments', 'I want-to-do moments', 'I need-to-find moments', and 'I need-to-buy moments'. These moments matter to brands because they are where decisions are being made and preferences are being shaped - lean-in moments when we expect our needs and wants to be fulfilled instantly.
UK Smartphone users will take action right away when they need or want something. 2
Making sense of the moments that matter
Every day, three billion people around the world have dozens of moments that matter to them and their lives. These moments create billions of 'signals', which not only include context e.g. where someone is, what device they are using or the time of day, but also intent: what someone wants or needs at that moment.
This combination of context and intent-driven signals is a goldmine for marketers, providing more opportunities to be relevant and connect with consumers in more meaningful ways than ever before.
Consider two people searching for 'Thai food.' The first searches from a desktop at 5 pm on a weekday. Perhaps it's someone at work looking up a recipe for a meal they're going to prepare later. The second query is made by someone on a phone at 9 pm on a Saturday night in the centre of town, within walking distance from local restaurants. This person might just be browsing for information, but everything about their context suggests they're hungry now.
Historically, marketers would have no way of distinguishing between these two consumers, or their individual needs. With signals, marketers can be immediately relevant in the moment, potentially triggering two different ads to the exact same query. One might have a clickable phone number or directions to help a hungry, on-the-go user, another might have recipes and 'how-to' advice for the desktop user planning their evening meal.
Our research shows that this level of relevance makes a real difference; 75% of online consumers in the UK have taken action after seeing a message from a brand that is relevant to them.2
The examples from previous scenario were just two of a myriad of consumer moments where brands can leverage signals to deliver relevant and timely ads that resonate with their audience. Let's explore some more moments that matter in more detail...
From travel aficionados watching videos to get inspiration for their next holiday, to viewers who want to check in with their favourite creators on YouTube, these are all moments where an audience is leaning in and engaged with content that they love. A huge 60% year-on-year increase in watch time on YouTube bears testament to how increasingly engaged viewers have become.3 Brands can tap into communities of shared passions on YouTube, driving awareness of their products or services - in our research, 23% of UK consumers said they had discovered new products or brands while watching online video.2
Online video is also the new default solution in those "I-want-to-do" moments - 59% of web users in the UK use YouTube when trying to find out how to do something.2 What's more, a whopping 83% of web users under 35 believe that they can find a YouTube video on anything they want to learn.2
Brands can connect with more potential customers by aligning their brand content with these "I-want-to-do" moments.
The internet is the first port of call when we need to find information - 87% of UK smartphone users agree.4
Although most have a rough idea of what they want to find, only 6% of consumers researching on a smartphone have pinned down the exact brand or product when they start their journey online.2 This provides a huge opportunity for advertisers to aid brand discovery and shape preferences early in the purchase journey with search, online video and display ads across the web.
Understanding that relevance is key, Premier Inn was able to reach and influence travellers who were undecided about their hotel choice with the best message, not just at that moment, but for that moment. By leveraging consumer signals such as the length of stay, the country they were visiting, and the device they were using, Premier Inn were able to connect the right people, with the right message, at precisely the right time, increasing new customer bookings by 40%.5
When it comes to the way purchase decisions are made, constant connectivity has provided consumers with infinite choice, immediately, at their fingertips.
66% of UK consumers who researched products on their smartphones have thought about purchasing a brand they would not normally consider because of relevant information available on their device at that time. On top of this, 50% actually make a purchase. I-want-to-buy moments go well beyond online purchases, they happen in-store too. Shoppers are keen to make use of instant advice to help them make the right decision. 23% of smartphone users say that the last time they used their device while in a store, the information they found online about a product or service helped them choose what to buy.2
Signals: The secret ingredient for success
Demographic targeting is just the tip of the iceberg; today, brands can go much deeper by leveraging signals - focusing on real and recent online user behaviour, rather than speaking to audiences based only on what might be known about their age, gender and claimed interests.
With this in mind, when promoting their BMWi brand, BMW's strategy was to use intent-driven signals such as what people were searching for, and customers' previous interactions with their website, to reach a truly qualified audience with a relevant message. With this approach BMW achieved nearly 750,000 views of their TrueView ad in 6 weeks.6
Our research shows that greater relevance is greatly appreciated. 45% of UK online consumers agree that the relevance of a company's message influences their opinion of a brand.2
Making the most of moments that matter
Billions of moments online have opened up billions of opportunities for brands to reach their audience with relevant content, right when they are leaning in. How can you ensure that you are making the most of these moments?
1. Identify the moments to win
Identify the moments that you want to win or can't afford to lose. Examine all phases of the consumer journey to map the moments when people want to find inspiration, learn something or make a quick purchase. By leveraging these moments in your marketing strategy, you can ensure that you are present for all of the moments that matter most to your potential customers, and your business.
2. Deliver on consumer needs in the moment
Ensure that you are able to reach your audience with relevant messages by understanding not only declared information like age and gender, but also a combination of context-rich signals (time of day, device used and location) and intent-rich signals (search queries, the content they are viewing and previous interactions with your brand). For each moment you want to win, put yourself in the consumer's shoes. Ask, "what would be the most useful or helpful information for them right now?".
3. Measure every moment that matters
As we've seen, all moments are not created equal; there are a plethora of diverse moments that matter, each presenting diverse opportunities for your brand.
For every moment that you win, ensure that you have defined the best success metrics for your goals across the entire purchase funnel - from driving brand awareness to driving sales - so you can measure impact effectively. Measure. Learn. Iterate. Win more of the moments that matter today and tomorrow.