Flying Blind: A New Report Raises Questions About Purchasing Decisions in a Multi-Screen World

- April 25, 2014 2:22 AM
Categories: Commentary, Purchasing | Tags:

We’ve all heard about the multi-screen world (with two teenagers in the house, I don’t have to go far to see it everyday). However, while there has been much focus on the so-called “second screen” when it comes to the consumption of all forms of media, there is also something similar going on in the way we as consumers make purchasing decisions. This was evidenced in the release earlier this month of some very interesting results coming from eMarketer’s new report, Desktop Search 2014: Marketers Find a Balance with Mobile. While this research piece dealt with how today’s multi-screen, multi-device environment is affecting consumer search and purchasing behaviors, I think this is also an important issue on both sides of the corporate and governmental procurement equation.

The eMarketer report honed in on a key metric for marketers and advertisers, one that is troublesome from a measurement standpoint. This is the fact that, according to late 2013 Web traffic data from comScore, over half of all the unique visitors to major search sites had conducted similar search activities and web browsing for purchases between their desktop and mobile devices. So while marketers and advertisers have become quite sophisticated at using the consumer data generated by consumers browsing for goods and services on their laptops, the greater use of smartphones and tablets presents them with a conundrum. This is because unlike traditional computing devices, mobile devices do not allow for the use of cookies. Thus, when a shopper uses a smartphone or a tablet, companies lose the opportunity to trace consumer behavior with the precision that is available when a current or potential customer uses a computer.

Further, it is difficult to impossible for companies and their advertising arms to follow the consumer’s path to purchase when using a mobile device either before – or in conjunction with – a computer. All of this makes the return on investment (ROI) calculation far more complex when looking at mobile advertising. The key, according to the eMarketer report, will be to find ways to synchronize consumer search, browsing, and Web activities – including identifying purchasing intent for consumers who have accessed information via Twitter, YouTube, mobile ads, and even TV and radio advertising, across the multiple devices we commonly use.

And so what does this mean for the world of procurement? If marketers are essentially flying blind in regards to how the various forms of advertising mix in our minds when it comes to buying consumer products online, the picture is even more complex for acquisition decisions made by corporate market and public sector buyers. While there is currently no data available to back up the proposition, if you simply walk around procurement departments and peer into cubicles, you will see staffers using multiple devices to get their work done. And whether it is browsing through catalogs for buys or searching for like items for specs to use, acquisition pros are increasingly using their mobile devices in lieu of – and often, in tandem with – their computers.

Thus, firms serving these markets will need to redouble their efforts to become better informed about how we make organizational buys in our multi-device world. Indeed, relying solely on cookie-enabled data from traditional computing devices may significantly under-report the effectiveness of mobile advertising, Twitter campaigns, and even TV and radio ads. And this is a huge market opportunity for marketing research firms to provide better – and perhaps even new metrics – that can better inform companies on how to more effectively target and then convert institutional buyers with consistent messaging across multiple platforms and multiple screens. Since online ads only involve many billions of dollars and companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, I would say that we will see some exciting developments in this area over the next six to 12 months. There is a huge opportunity for innovative advertising and analytics companies to fill this gulf of information in how we make buying decisions across multiple platforms today.

* Required fields  [email address will not be published]

*