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How the Digital Landscape Is Changing Marketing

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One of the largest growth areas in marketing right now is in digital.

According to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, spending on Internet advertising in the U.S. totaled a record $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2013, which is a 15 percent increase from the same quarter in 2012. In the pet industry, this is something we are seeing more companies embrace and find successful.

Before the digital age, companies that wanted to market to consumers focused on advertising in print, television or radio. The number of television channels and shows was miniscule compared to what there is today. But as television offerings expanded, video games became popular and the Internet widely available, audience fragmentation made it exceedingly difficult to capture the attention of the consumer. Digital advertising is becoming increasingly popular, as consumers are focusing on content creation, management and distribution.

Social networks, and social network advertising, allow pet businesses to market to a specific audience of pet owners that are likely to be interested in their products. This group of consumers can be narrowed based on past shopping history and other personal information users have chosen to share with the network.

However, that doesn’t mean you can just throw together a Facebook page and expect customers to flock to you. To stand out, it’s important to really know who your potential customers are, and target your advertising to that demographic.

Social networks are not traditionally a place to make direct sales. It is all about building a relationship with your followers and engaging with them. It is a source of information, as pet owners share what they love about your products, questions they face, as well as what they don’t like. A savvy marketer can compile this information and notice trends that can help to direct future efforts.

Smartphone use has continued to increase, along with tablets.  We’ve seen tremendous growth in using handheld devices with personal shopping. Physical retail is becoming a location to learn about and touch products, while many younger consumers delay making the actual purchase until price-comparing online.

It will become increasingly important for physical retail stores to focus on creating quality in-store experiences,  as well as having a strong online presence in order to keep younger customers. Millennials and Generation Z are the most likely to utilize mobile online shopping, and this category is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead.

In addition to online shopping, video viewership is shifting to online sources. Teens and young adults are currently watching as much television online as they do on an actual television set. No longer is video advertising limited to the old standby of television, which has significant cost hurdles for many small pet businesses.

Online video sites such as Hulu, YouTube and others allow consumers to select programs and watch them at their convenience anywhere that has an Internet or cellular connection. Consumers are not restricted to network schedules and cable pricing.

Viewers are reachable with targeted, relevant ads that either play before, during, or in-between online videos. Instead of showing a commercial to a million random people at a very high cost, as traditional television would provide, businesses can now reach thousands of people who would actually be interested in a product. Coming up with a compelling online video advertisement can now provide a better return on the marketing investment, and at a lower price point than television.

Consumer communication and purchasing have been migrating to digital channels at a pace much faster than marketing. Despite this growth, we have only begun to see the shift in marketing budgets to digital activities. This provides a terrific advantage to the few pet companies pursuing this advertising category.

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