Look Beyond The First Iteration When It Comes To Innovation

December 18, 2013
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Most innovation initially bears a close resemblance to its ancestor.

Do you recall how the first motorcar (invented by Carl Benz in 1886) resembled a buggy?  How about the first cell phones from the late 1980s?  They looked like a cordless house phone.  Or the first TV ad by Bulova in 1941?  A single static visual combined with a radio style voice over.

We are seeing that now in digital shopper marketing.  We have taken the traditional newspaper insert or mailer with promoted price points, put it on a website and still call it a “circular.”

Just as cars got faster and safer, phones got smaller and smarter, and TV creative engaged us with talented actors and elaborate settings, it’s time to leverage new technology to evolve how we engage shoppers.

Several innovative companies are paving the way.  ibotta has turned the coupon model on its head by only charging advertisers for redemption not distribution.  You as a brand decide what messaging you want to engage a potential shopper with, the value of the reward and targeted product and retailers.  When one of their 2.3MM+ app users takes those actions, they accumulate rewards that are credited when the product is purchased. Users can cash out in various ways – as little as $2 can be cashed for an e-credit for a movie rental at RedBox, higher amounts can be redeemed for Starbucks, iTunes and other gift cards or users can take cash via paypal in $5 increments.

No more dollars wasted on distributing offers that don’t get redeemed or participants can’t stack or reuse offers.  While there is still a bit of friction with scanning receipts – that will be eliminated with emerging mobile wallet technologies.  As an advertiser there is absolutely no waste – you only pay on redemptions (and still benefit from the ad exposure to shoppers that buy later or forget to claim their rewards).

Another cool shopper marketing innovation is soldsie, an app that allows fashion boutiques and other small businesses to conduct ecommerce via comments on a Facebook page.  This is a great way to monetize peer-to-peer sharing and jump-start a CRM effort.

Ditto also capitalizes on peer sharing by enabling brands to harness the power of the 500MM+ (and rapidly growing) pictures shared daily across social networks.  On average only about 15% of the public social images shared daily that feature a brand also include a mention of that brand in the text.  Ditto helps brands discover the other 85% via innovative image recognition technology, allowing marketers the opportunity to glean valuable insights from these photos including an understanding of fan interests and affinity with other brands and influencers.  Marketers can then engage with fans socially, encourage opt in to CRM programs and incent relevant content and promotion sharing with their networks via “hot spots” in fan photos.

As shoppers continue to be willing to provide data in exchange for more relevant offers, expect more innovation in 2014 and beyond – way beyond the online “circular.”

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