In the last decade we have seen the rise of online marketing as a natural outgrowth of the Internet age. Data mining, cookies, keywords and clickbait have all become commonplace in today’s marketing landscape, and the shift in this direction has been largely successful. In fact, 78% of consumers in the United States can be reached online. That seems like a pretty reassuring statistic in terms of the effectiveness of online marketing. But it is easy to overlook the fact that the 12% who are not on the Internet represent 70 million consumers. This statistic provides perspective to the importance of continued effort to reach the offline customer.
Lately, it seems so much attention has been paid to online marketing that we have almost forgotten how to reach regular old folks without the Internet. If you ask me, there are two primary approaches to interacting with the offline consumer: The old fashioned way – through traditional media, and the new-fangled way – through, believe it or not, technology.
Before the Internet took over, an array of marketing mediums that we would now classify as “traditional media” dominated the scene. These channels are still around and they still work, even if no one of them can claim the same pervasive influence as the World Wide Web. For those seeking to reach a local, community-based audience, newspaper ads and direct mail campaigns are a go-to. Larger companies with desires to reach a broad audience often purchase ad space on billboards and on television and radio stations. Even though online marketing is king, traditional paid media still maintains a presence, and it is a tried and true method of connecting with the offline customer.
For companies with a target market tied to a specific industry, contributing to trade publications or newsletter where possible may prove to be advantageous in the quest to engage the offline consumer. These articles, if they provide real value to readers rather than just flatly advertising the product, can be an effective method of meeting offline customers in places where they already come for information. Furthermore, these articles may even entice some readers to seek more information through online resources. This occurrence is not uncommon. In fact, a study conducted by Google indicated that traditional media plays a leading role in determining the content of online searches for products and services. Thus, traditional media in general can serve as a bridge between offline customers and online marketing.
One of the major advantages of online marketing and data analytics that is lost on traditional media is the interactive nature of the beast. When the Internet is used as a marketing tool, business personnel have the ability to observe a consumer’s behavior and make important inferences that inform the company’s marketing scheme. The process is interactive. The Internet serves as an interface where both marketers and consumers send signals. This two way process does not extend to traditional media, where marketers send one-sided messages to consumers in hopes that they are effectively packaged, delivered and received. Thus the advantage of data and analytics has not been extended to the case of the offline customer, that is, until the development of intelligent video analytics.
Intelligent video analytics is a technology that uses surveillance cameras to gather data about consumers within view of the lense. This tool is useful in brick and mortar business locations. Its software uses advanced algorithms to analyze customer appearance and behavior. Business personnel now have the ability to not only count the number of customers who come in and out of their stores, but also observe the age, gender and ethnicity of their customers on a larger and more structured scale. This demographic information is helpful because it allows marketers to cater their efforts to suit their most valuable retail customers, whether they have a presence on the internet or not. The behavior analysis capabilities of video analytics are valuable because they allow marketers to assess how customers interact with retail displays, where their eyes are drawn when they are looking at an aisle, and what their body language at the point of sale looks like. This information is significant because it allows marketers to gather data about customers without the need of them sharing information through their online behavior.