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It was once relatively easy for national restaurant brands to reach consumers. Run a commercial on the evening news and a popular show, advertise in the local newspaper and hit a few billboards. Done—you’d be top-of-mind when it’s time to dine out.
Then everything changed. Innovation and technology combined to give brands a headache. Cable television, internet and smartphones increased choice and made it even more difficult for restaurants (well, all brands, really) to reach consumers.
Or did it?
The problem also provides the solution. Here’s why.
The average U.S. adult spends 12 hours and 7 minutes of every day consuming media. That’s right. Here’s how that time stacks up.
The kicker is that those numbers* don’t include multitasking. So, if you’re watching TV and are also on your smartphone, the time isn’t counted twice. However, The USC Marshall School of Business estimates that multitasking increases a person’s total media consumption to more than 15 hours a day.
For consumers, this tremendous amount of media causes stress, eye strain and lack of socialization. No matter the size, when our eyes are on a screen we may not interact with people. It’s amazing we have time to eat and sleep.
For restaurants, the prevalence of screens is a good thing. That’s because most of our on-screen activity generates actionable data—a digital footprint that personally identifies us. Cookies on our computers, device IDs and signing in to websites and services all generate data. These breadcrumbs can identify who we are, where we are and what screen we’re looking at. And because we’re so connected—15 hours a day, remember—this allows brands to display unique, customized ads to us via automated programmatic advertising.
But it gets better, thanks to the capability of communicating to consumers across channels and devices in a way that follows their purchasing journey. Literally.
Here’s how it works.
You’re looking for a new restaurant for a family celebration. At home on your desktop computer, you access Yelp and Google to search for local establishments. You head to Google Maps to see what restaurants are in your neighborhood. While at work later that day, you continue your search on your smartphone.
For good or bad, all this activity has identified: 1) you; 2) that you are in the market for restaurants; and 3) the various devices, screens and sites you’ve visited. This enables a restaurant brand to market to you in a consistent way, and across all your devices. When you’re on your laptop at home, you might see an ad on Facebook promoting a local restaurant. Then you may see an ad for the same restaurant on your smartphone. And if you’re a passenger in a car, digital geofencing technology may display an ad with information about the restaurant being just a few blocks away. Television can also be used to deliver these cross-channel programmatic ads.
For savvy marketers at restaurants, this is all about managing the communication experience and talking directly to consumers where their eyes are. The stakes are high. In its 2016 State of Marketing study, Salesforce reports that high-performing corporate marketing teams are 34.4% more likely than underperforming teams to “be excellent” at creating and executing cross-channel customer experiences.**
That’s a question restaurant marketers are grappling with. Some consumers may not like being “followed” in such an overt way. But CMOs shouldn’t worry. Research by Forrester and Adlucent has found that consumers like personalized advertising that helps with online searching: 71% of consumers say they prefer ads that are customized to their interests and shopping habits.
Help is a few keystrokes away.