IAB & Winterberry Group Unveil Report Examining Customer Engagement Strategies in Omnichannel Marketing

Survey of Over 120 Executive-Level Thought Leaders Finds 91% Interested in Omnichannel & 82% Intend to Invest in Omnichannel Strategies in the Near Future

NEW YORK – With the rise of new technologies and cross-screen marketing, the advertising arena is beginning to embrace an omnichannel approach. While this movement has been derided in the past for its call to tear down functional and channel-specific execution silos, today’s technological advances are forcing a rethink of omnichannel marketing approaches – attracted to the informed, consistent dialogue it creates with targeted audiences across multiple screens. This shift highlights the need for in-depth research and analysis as a critical next step in omnichannel’s progression. In response, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Winterberry Group today released “Taking Cues From the Customer: ‘Omnichannel’ and the Drive For Audience Engagement,” a white paper that for the first time provides a comprehensive look at the origins and likely evolution of omnichannel customer engagement strategies, while also identifying capabilities that marketers and publishers need to possess in order to capitalize on its promise.

“Taking Cues From the Customer: ‘Omnichannel’ and the Drive For Audience Engagement”

The white paper is based on a survey of more than 120 senior executives from marketers, agencies, publishers, technology developers and solution providers – including executive-level leaders at Cardlytics, CBS Interactive, Condé Nast, Gap, Global Hotel Alliance, MDC Partners, MediaShift, nFusion, Pandora Media, Points, PopSugar, Splice Software, UM, Volkswagen of America and others. Querying these high-level advertising stakeholders about interest in omnichannel approaches, the study discovered that a powerful majority (91.7%) agreed that such strategies hold great value, with an overwhelming number (82.4%) saying they intend on investing in the same in the near future.

Other survey findings:

  • Panelists said they expect the brand identity and recognition benefits of such an approach to be the most significant of all of omnichannel’s benefits – outstripping even clear performance gains such as “higher response rates” and “revenue growth”
  • The role of advertising in supporting omnichannel strategies will rely on continued adoption of audience-centered media formats, with 25 percent of panelists saying such cross-platform products are “very important” in driving customer engagement today, and four out of five (79%) believing they will be crucial in the near future
  • Gaps with respect to supporting technologies and internal business processes continue to hamper marketer and publisher attempts to achieve wider omnichannel transformation

In order to deliver the positive impact that omnichannel customer engagement strategies could have on the entirety of the digital marketing landscape, the report showcases six areas that marketing and publishing stakeholders need to address in order to fully tap into omnichannel’s rewards. They include:

  • Customer Analytics and Multiplatform Attribution: The foundations of a deeper understanding of the customer and the engagement strategy best tuned to their needs
  • Rich Content—Optimized for Context and Strategic Intent: Enhancing the value of every consumer interaction, and supporting a range of tactical priorities addressing both branding and performance marketing
  • Operational Infrastructure Geared to the Needs of Customer Engagement: Including media buying and selling tools that support various channels (and metrics), as well as business processes, incentive structures and key performance indicators aligned with the same
  • Cross-Platform, Audience-Driven Media Products: Allowing advertisers to more readily identify and engage with customer segments through their chosen platforms
  • Integration of Deeply Engaging—Yet Effectively “Disconnected”—Media Channels: Including addressable television, mobile video, out-of-home media and others; and
  • Elevation of the “Omnichannel Strategist” as a Senior Role: Ensuring accountability and coordination of customer decisioning, product development, pricing and other critical functions

“There is no question that the advertising ecosystem sees omnichannel strategies as being of incredible value in reaching and retaining customers,” said Patrick Dolan, Executive Vice President and COO, IAB. “This report breaks new ground in not only spotlighting omnichannel as the wave of the future, but in also bringing current challenges into sharp focus. All of us at the IAB regard this landmark study as the first step in the larger process of meeting these issues head on, providing the guidance and tools necessary to take omnichannel to the next level.”

“Omnichannel offers a complex, customer-centered marketing paradigm that holds terrific promise,” said Jonathan C. Margulies, Managing Director, Winterberry Group. “But, future omnichannel practitioners have to be ready to transform their traditional methods and competencies if they want to embrace these strategies. If the industry can coalesce with an organization such as the IAB to develop infrastructure priorities and set best practices for working with brands, omnichannel will play a significant – and financially beneficial – role for clients, agencies and publishers alike.”

The premier sponsors of the IAB-Winterberry Group white paper include BrightRoll, Cars.com and Paradysz, with Adconion Direct, Digital First Media, Neustar, nPario and Operative serving as supporting sponsors.

“Taking Cues From the Customer: ‘Omnichannel’ and the Drive For Audience Engagement” was released at the “IAB Cross-Screen Content & Consumers: AfterFronts” conference, held at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Hotel in New York City.

To read the full report, please visit iab.net/omnichannel


The paper’s findings are based on the results of an intensive research effort that included phone, online and in-person surveys of more than 120 advertisers, marketers, publishers, technology developers and marketing service providers (conducted between March and May 2013).

About Winterberry Group

Winterberry Group is a unique strategic consulting firm that supports the growth of advertising, marketing, media and information organizations. Affiliated with Petsky Prunier LLC—a leading investment bank providing merger and acquisition advisory services to companies in the same sectors—the Firm offers its clients strategic perspective that is unparalleled in its addressable industries, while PPLLC maintains exceptional relationships with industry executives and business owners. This combination of market intelligence, research and strategic operating experience (as well as the ongoing dialogue among buyers and sellers of marketing businesses) provides an educated outside perspective that we bring to each engagement. For more information, please visit winterberrygroup.com.

About the IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit iab.net.