The proliferation of smartphones and high-speed mobile internet has changed the marketing landscape forever. Over 70% of Americans have mobile phones, which are always-on and always-on-hand.

Consumers are decreasingly influenced by traditional marketing channels (e.g., circular, broadcast, and POP) and are more than ever using mobile technology to inform buying decisions. Therefore, marketing is increasingly digital and fueled by analytics, giving the data-geeks a seat at the table with the strategists and creatives.

This post provides a quick summary of how it all happened, concluding with four tips on how to make the most of the digital marketing landscape going forward.


Proctor and Gamble defined the “First Moment of Truth” paradigm, which asserted that the consumer decision making process was largely won by in-store marketing (which really reminds me of e-commerce’s last-click attribution). P&G even went as far as to create the position of “Director of FMOT” and a 15-person team to create solutions designed to “win over customers in the first three to seven seconds of the shopping experience”


FCB’s Michael Fassnacht predicted,

Over the next few years Geeks in Marketing will become one of the most disruptive force in a discipline that traditionally was driven by big creative personalities


Apple released the iPhone, beginning the shift from feature-phones to smart phones


McKinsey published their framework of the Consumer Decision Journey, with the “Moment of Purchase” corresponding to P&G’s the “First Moment of Truth”

McKinsey CDJ Framework


Google published their “Zero Moment of Truth” framework, asserting that the consumer purchase decision is increasingly won during the active evaluation phase (done increasingly on smart phones), before the actual moment of purchase (First Moment of Truth)


Smart phones outnumbered feature phones in America for the first time

Showrooming” punishes Best Buy and retailers scramble to respond


43% of U.S. adults would be willing to give up beer for a month if it meant they could keep accessing the Internet on their smartphones


Smart phones accounted for 60% of internet connections in developed countries with 3.6 billion unique subscribers

26% of over 2,200 Amercians in a Harris Poll survey ranked smart phone access more important than sex


Mobile data traffic is expected to grow ten-fold between 2014 and 2019


Smart phones are expected to reach 70% of the global base by 2020, with 4.6 billion subscribers. (Source – 2015 GSMA Report)

The new, digital marketing landscape

Technology usage in the active evaluation process has expanded, with many consumers consulting 10 or more sources before a purchase, frequently through their smart phones (and often in-store).

Ironically, reverse-showrooming or “webrooming” is a growing trend, with consumers checking online for product information and reviews before going to a brick-and-mortar location to buy.

In the new digital age, it’s no longer realistic or smart to judge campaigns solely by the final point-of-sale interaction. Marketers must utilize the data generated by consumers in the evaluation phase to craft their engagement strategy to win the purchase decision before the first moment of truth arrives.

To again quote Fassnacht, who has proven to be something of a prophet, had this to say about the role of marketing geeks in winning what would later be called the Zero Moment of Truth:

The staggering growth of available customer data, and the proliferation of technology tools enable us to decipher and explain patterns better. But how will the rise of the Geek influence the practice of Marketing? I suggest three key changes:

  • More and more marketers in more and more meetings will ask the question: “What does the data tell us?” This will change how marketing programs are designed, and executed!
  • The sophistication level of any marketing dialog between companies, agencies, and 3rd parties will rise due to a data and number centric foundation that everyone will share (hopefully)
  • The currently dominant strategic and creative forces within marketing will learn how to share the power of decision making with more and more Geeks. I believe that this will make the creative better and more relevant for the consumer instead of pleasing the personal preferences of some executives within a Fortune 2000 company

Taking this to heart, the most successful marketing teams will be the ones who are able to marry successfully the three key tribes of marketers:

  • The Creative
  • The Strategist/Account Guy
  • The Marketing Geek

Such teams will be able to best capitalize on the opportunity afforded by the “Zero Moment of Truth” by doing the following four things: (source)

1. Use search to uncover and understand the moments that matter

Long before many brand managers even knew what they were, consumers were searching for things like “greek yogurt,” “BB cream,” and “ombre hair.” If you had to guess what kind of stain is searched for most, would you know the answer? Overwhelmingly, it’€™s “red wine stains.”

Do you know what’€™s in the collective mind of consumers right now? (Answer: coconut oil). The trick is to use search to identify the moments that matter to consumers and act on them across your entire marketing mix.

2. Be present in the moments that matter

Woody Allen is often credited with saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” This is especially true when it comes to digital. You can’€™t be a helpful brand partner and improve the lives of consumers if you’€™re not present in the moments they need you most. And increasingly, these moments are happening on smartphones.

On mobile, do you know how many people are searching for your brand? Your category? How many of those times do you show up? How many times do they choose you, and why? Most importantly, how many times does your competitor show up, but you don’t?

3. Have something interesting, relevant and/or engaging to say

We’€™ve established that you need to have an answer to these many consumer moments, but do you have the “right” answer? And does your ad provide the best possible experience across screens? Links to products may not be enough to hook consumers. Your ads should provide an experience that’s as informative and entertaining as possible: links to rich content on your website and opportunities to engage on Facebook or watch videos on YouTube, for example.

4. Measure the impact

You’ve managed to successfully capture the Zero Moment of Truth. Now what? To what degree does a ZMOT win advance business KPIs such as awareness, consideration, purchase intent, trial and repeat and purchase considerations?

Brands that are committed to the Zero Moment of Truth—the ones that use search to uncover and understand the moments that matter, that show up, that provide the right mobile-relevant answers and that measure the impact—€”stand to gain a competitive advantage. More importantly, they can help consumers when they need it most. At the end of the day, what matters more?

Many businesses have fallen behind on consumer behavior. In a world where people look first to mobile devices and real-time streams, the digital journey has grown more complex, and it’s become more challenging to gain a clear picture of these interactions. Success depends on adapting to this new reality, and analytics is a key to successful evolution.

Its dangerous to go alone! Bring a Geek with you.