By Rob Schmults, firstname.lastname@example.org
Forrester Research published a report on online shopper marketing tools in which it noted that many buzz-driven technologies didn’t seem to be getting much traction, while growth in the most common approaches (brand websites, retail specific content, etc.) “has either slowed, peaked, or essentially stopped.”
What gives? Why is this happening when the rest of online marketing is in the midst of such dynamic and innovative phases?
A large driver may come down to the way most online shopper marketers are thinking about budgets. First, it appears online shopper marketing has made the oft repeated mistake of assuming the presence of analogous offline budgets so that dollars will quickly move online. Second, the coop dollars they often seek to tap have powerful stakeholders unwilling to see these dollars reallocated.
If you’re a merchant at a retailer, often a part of your bonus is tied to the coop dollars (aka MDF) you secure. And it’s not uncommon for those dollars to flow straight to the bottom line: they aren’t actually spent on anything. Having a shopper marketing vendor taking a cut AND possibly redirecting them out of your budget is simply not in your best interest. So for the organizationally powerful merchants, the claims of shopper marketing to be a more effective use of coop tend to fall on deaf ears.
One solution is for digital shopper marketers to steer clear of co-op dollars and instead look to other sources of marketing spend. But that runs into a budgeting problem on the advertiser side. Because for most brands, their online marketing dollars are about bringing traffic to their own sites, not moving traffic around inside of retail sites. All their incentives are set-up around a closed loop model where dollars spent are tracked against direct sales delivered (or some other metric where direct sales aren’t an option). When the action takes place on another web site, that loop is broken.
So where does that leave shopper marketing?
As online advertising in general found, waiting for offline budgets to