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What We Learned at LSA18

Blis recently attended the LSA 2018 conference in Chicago, and we left with a lot to think about! The annual event of the Local Search Association provided a lot of great information for mobile marketers – entirely too much for a single blog post. We’ve condensed our experience to bring you a few of the highlights.

CX: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?

There’s so much competition out there – it almost doesn’t matter what category or vertical you’re in. That’s why great customer experience still matters. Marketers talk about customer experience and customer service, but how many really follow through? It’s so important, especially today when we have so much data and machine learning supporting our work in marketing.

With that in mind, focus first on quality product, but then carry that quality straight through the customer experience. A great product, bolstered by positive perception of your brand, is the key to success.

The speaker at this session on CX was Nishat Mehta of IRi. Mehta had a few smart takeaways for marketers to think about as customer marketing experiences are developed. There are a few different types of marketing experiences to consider:

  • Personal: Not Your Father’s Root Beer brought some nostalgia back to marketing. Their brand hearkens back to an older, simpler time, and it feels personal and relatable.
  • Simple: Dollar Shave Club exemplifies “simple” in marketing – they made the entire experience easy and accessible
  • Magical: (Heinz Ketchup did a great job of this in their partnership with Blippar to deliver an augmented reality experience to consumers. It’s that idea of “surprise and delight” – giving users and experience that’s unexpected and magical.
  • Empathetic: Show empathy for users that will be using their product. We’re all consumers at the end of the day. Act as you would like to be treated by others, and you’ll be on the right path.

At another session, speaker William Chamberlain from Twitter shared an important life experience that also resonated with this topic. He’d suffered a brain injury, and upon his return to work, he realized that he needed to pull back all the layers and just make everything simpler. People care about people he realized, and humanity still has an important role to play in marketing. We have to put emotion back into the data. We have to actually think like humans as we draw the lines that connect data and insights.

In sum, customer experience matters. Don’t just give lip service to it. Actually think about what your customers need and want. As we move deeper into AI and machine learning, this could be the first thing to fall by the wayside – and we can’t let that happen.

What’s Wrong with ___ and How to Fix It

During this session, which was set up as a series of mini TED-style talks, Lisa Bradner, president & managing director, Midwest, of OMD discussed the problems facing the world of ad tech today. According to Bradner, one pitfall is that we get too caught up in all the data and then lose sight of what’s best for the business or the client.

Bradner notes that we take a lot of time to talk about the “plumbing” related to getting advertising messages from Point A to Point B. The challenge, she suggests, is not to think about plumbing, but to become a plumber. “Data ultimately rules,” she says. “Content may be king in media, but in advertising, it is data.”

Data and ad tech, she continues, are great servants, but lousy masters. (“Would you want your plumber to design your house?” Bradner asks.) Data and technology have run way ahead, and we need to think about how we utilize them. Keeping “garbage in, garbage out” in mind, we need to be really smart about what exactly we’re putting through those pipes.

Bradner recommends that we act as the architect of our ad tech and data. To embody that role, she recommends:

  • Owning your own strategy – for every decision, ask who, when, why, and in service to what?
  • Ask yourself what you don’t know and what you don’t currently have access to, and rely on those answers to guide you to new opportunities and audiences
  • Frame your opportunity to discover smart, targeted data options
  • Choose your partners, and decide whether to make, build or buy – and take the time to understand how and why you’ve made the best selection for each option
  • Make your technology work for you – not the other way around

In the same session, Walter Geer, co-founder of Quarry, talked about mobile ads. He asked if we could remember seeing a mobile ad recently – and actually remember the brand behind it. Greer contends that we need to make our work less about the ads more about experiences, giving consumers something tangible to remember. Marketers need think about how consumers actually interact with mobile ad formats and find ways to tap into the emotional response.

Greer suggest that marketers need to be more inventive and more innovative, both with their creative and their location data. We need to bring these together, he says, reaching the right audiences with creative people want to engage with. Data allows us to see where people go and how they move, so why aren’t we targeting them with (for example) sequential ads? Why are we letting creative become an afterthought? We shouldn’t. Creative is what captures imagination and drives real engagement.

Another important thought was raised: Location is an important source for finding new audiences. We can’t rely on channels like search, especially as markets get even more crowded and more and more consumers reach for their phones before their desktops. It can take four scrolls to find an organic listing, and many consumers won’t spend even that much time. Beyond that, it’s important to remember that 85 percent of people walking into retail locations will not be found online! If location equals intent, location may be our most meaningful way to find and build new audiences moving forward.

Thanks to the Local Search Association for another great event. We were inspired and excited – and we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference!

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