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Selling a Consumer Journey, Not Just a Product

by Guest Writter
Gastón Taratuta, CEO & founder, IMS Internet Media Services (IMS)

Apple or everyone else? Most digital consumers nowadays come to a point where they must decide to buy an Apple product or the alternative. Except a consumer is deciding on more than just a product. They’re at a fork in the road with two paths: a consumer journey or a dead end. Apple consumers immediately become part of Apple’s network where they are exposed to the App Store, iTunes, and an ecosystem of devices like the iPad, iPhone, and soon, the Apple Watch. Unlike its competitors, Apple has created a consumer journey, which is what makes its business model so unique and more importantly, so successful.

As technology breaks down walls and reaches new frontiers of connectivity, the virtual world has become an important network for business. Brands can reach all corners of the world with a single tweet. Business people can connect with coworkers on every continent. And consumers can make purchases with a swipe of a finger. At the same time, consumers are confronted with endless online and offline resources readily available at their fingertips 24/7, which is why it’s crucially important to guide them through a well-curated customer experience.

More and more, brands need to align cross-channel experiences for their customers—experiences that take advantage of digitization to provide customers with targeted, just-in-time product or service information in an effective and seamless way. The key in reaching an audience online is to understand that today it isn’t about going through one platform because it has the highest penetration rate, but following the consumer journey throughout a set of platforms.

Over the last ten years, as I built IMS Internet Media Services (IMS), I saw the evolution of this consumer journey concept. Several years ago, we began partnering with fast-moving businesses from Silicon Valley to sell advertising opportunities on these platforms to Latin American brands. Our partners today include Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Waze, iAd, Spotify, and Crackle. These platforms – and how the digital consumer uses them – are a fundamental part of the consumer journey concept.

Our latest research shows that the average Latin American has 18 apps on his or her smartphone, which means that Latin American advertisers have the exceptional ability to reach Latin Americans at multiple touch points – on the apps they use throughout the day. Our goal is to offer our partners’ platforms to brands and agencies within the region and help them find the right combination of outlets and messages to engage consumers throughout that journey.

Our study showed that there’s an 80% chance that a Waze user in LatAm is also on Twitter. Consumers are increasingly engaged on multiple screens and platforms for different needs. Twitter reaches audiences in a conversation, Spotify does the same through music, and location-based apps Swarm and Foursquare drive people to restaurants and stores targeting consumers wherever they go. Similarly, Waze travels with the consumer on their daily commute – Wazers are likely to be listening to music on the go with Spotify. LinkedIn advertising has the unique ability to drive new leads, conversion, and brand awareness in a professional setting. And iAd and Crackle are exceptionally adept at engaging consumers on multiple devices throughout the day. It’s not about a single platform anymore, it’s about being present throughout a suite of products that build a consumer journey. So despite Facebook’s 98% penetration rate in Latin America, if a brand only advertises on Facebook, it’s our opinion they’re not getting the most out of their advertising.

Companies that want to advertise on one platform should be doing the same on all the other apps with which a Latin American user is likely to engage. The consumer journey allows a brand to strengthen a message, be present in a unique combination of web touchpoints that reach consumers throughout the day and on multiple platforms and devices.

This business model has proven successful in many industries, spanning product and services in many markets, from the US to the Latin American region. It’s not enough to simply sell a product any more. Companies that focus on selling a commodity without the context of their audiences’ consumption lifestyles will find it difficult to reach their targeted audience and engage with consumers on a deeper level. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

[Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

About the Author

Gastón Taratuta founded IMS in 2005 and now manages the company’s strategic direction and oversees all IMS sales teams. IMS’s services include the commercial representation for Twitter, LinkedIn, Waze, Spotify, beIN, Sony Crackle, Apple iAd, and Foursquare. He has more than thirteen years of experience in online advertising and began his career as sales manager of Brazil’s Universo Online (UOL), advancing to President of its subsidiary UOL-E Corp. Gastón is fluent in Spanish, English and Portuguese. He holds a Master’s degree in international marketing from Florida International University and has participated in graduate programs at Stanford University. Gastón is based in Buenos Aires.

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