The digital world is already on the path guided by cross-channel internet advertising. However, that isn’t the final stage, as it’s consistently developing towards omnichannel marketing. The whole universe of marketing campaigns stopped counting only on channel “multiplicity”, and turned to a more comprehensive solution – channel “inclusivity”.

What is omni channel advertising and what is omni channel marketing? Can these notions be used interchangeably or are they suitable for different marketing strategies? From this point, let’s get a closer look at these new-age definitions in order to pinpoint the difference between omnichannel vs multichannel advertising.

A couple of Key Differences between the two

Even though multi channel and omnichannel concepts might be perceived as interchangeable, they have 3 key differences.

Channels utilization

The multichannel approach allows marketers to reach their target clients via a multitude of channels involved in a marketing strategy and drive better customer engagement. Multichannel strategy in marketing implies that multiple channels are used in order to drive better user engagement - website, print ad, mobile app, or social media. However, reaching customers through the channel of their choice doesn’t necessarily mean it will urge them to make a purchase (or respond to your call to action in any other way).

Multi channel marketing simply implies that advertisers use a variety of channels to address the users. The ad message, meanwhile, in this case, doesn’t have to have the same look and feel across channels. The user data is not transmitted between the channels and isn’t being processed in the single unified system (that analyzes user interactions and gathers the data about them).

Alternatively, omnichannel is also focused on ensuring customers have the same brand experience across channels as it collects the data about online user activities and other valuable data bites necessary for precise targeting. Statistics show that companies with omnichannel customer experience strategies in place retain on average 89% of their customers, as opposed to the user retention rate of 33% for companies without a robust omnichannel strategy.

omnichannle vs mutichannel marketing

The quality of engagement

Omnichannel marketing and multichannel advertising approaches both aim to improve customer experience, but the point is, do you want to make this experience good or excellent? Dozens of content pieces (or ads across the web) do not add value unless they resonate with customers’ needs. In this myriad of digital channels, there’s always a subtle chance for an impression to get lost. Embracing as much as possible, that is going multi channel, appears to be the only way to ensure you reach the customers where they are. The omnichannel approach aims to prevent the abovementioned consequences.

Omnichannel-oriented companies ensure all internal processes are working as a whole, seamlessly implementing a cohesive brand strategy through multiple channels. Cross-channel campaigns are also often called cross-device campaigns. This means that advertisers target different devices to solve the problem: for example, airing an ad campaign via programmatic TV with a promo video that features a promotional code that users should find in the mobile app.

Efforts spent

Multichannel marketing relies on channel development for customer experience improvement. Conversely, in omnichannel marketing, there is no need to focus on the number of channels since ad delivery depends also on efficient targeting. The ultimate priority of omnichannel campaigns is to make customer experience effortless. It becomes easy to forecast at which point of the customer journey the users may have difficulties, and eliminate them in advance. If omnichannel marketing is done right, you can optimize your marketing campaign even further with valuable targeting indicators.

When we talk about efforts, omni channel marketing doesn’t require them as much as multichannel because communication with clients is happening through a single unified system. For instance, the customers create personal accounts, obtain discount cards, and then use the card number to transact both online and offline. Customer information is constantly being synced and passed between the components of the omni-channel marketing system.

Omnichannel vs multichannel: when to use each?

The era of mono-channel shoppers has ended. To get acquainted with your brand, customers prefer to gather info from more than one channel. Multichannel marketing as well as omnichannel marketing are executing a single brand strategy across all channels, platforms, and methods with an aim to keep a solid customer engagement. For this reason, the majority of companies who want to amplify their branding results are currently practicing multi channel advertising.

Omni channel vs multi channel marketing dilemma is actually not a dilemma at all if you think about the purpose. Multi channel advertising can be implemented in cases when the brand's demographic is narrow and one tool is not enough to establish a strong contact.

For example, TV advertising provides a reach but does not provide accurate targeting. In this case, digital tools like ad platforms can help the brand to build communication with the right audiences, without increasing the frequency of contact. As a result, it can be necessary to combine these channels in order to solve a task: one message can be broadcasted via television, digital advertising, a promo website, social networks, and offline events.

Omnichannel marketing : a brief glimpse at how it works

As soon as your marketing strategy is created, the next step is to implement it via all possible channels and platforms, allowing customers to interact with your brand. The channel may be a website, social media, mobile app, an email, a print ad, etc. And here’s where the first pitfall may occur – every channel might be managed separately using a different multi channel strategy.

Evidently, much more software, tools, and automated platforms are needed to manage, analyze, and understand the data gathered per customer. All departments should be aligned to sustain a holistic user experience. Otherwise, it will lead to confusion, wasteful budget, and a drop in customer satisfaction. Cross-channel ad tech capabilities are the first thing that your company needs to embrace. This means that you need to make sure that each channel syncs the data with the rest. That is, they all "work together" striving to achieve a common goal.

“Omni” isn’t a random combination of syllables. Large companies need to deliver their brand message to potential customers more than once. It means that time, place, and other targeting options should be coherent. Omnichannel marketing ideally fits into a new mindset of multi-shoppers; clients prefer to investigate multiple channels (both online and offline) before they make a decision.

This approach enables seamless tracking of every aspect of user behavior, using a multiple channel approach and the whole spectrum of touchpoints altogether. This provides the customer with an integrating, long-lasting experience. These scenarios make an important aspect of advertising – all channels are interconnected and exist as a one. Below you can see the simple omnichannel vs multichannel marketing comparison.

Omnichannel marketing vs multichannel marketing

The future of omnichannel and multichannel advertising

According to research, almost 50% of in-store purchases are happening on the web; moreover, this trend is predicted to grow by 58% by the end of 2022. Compared to siloed multichannel communications, omnichannel advertising is a strategic, cohesive approach based on seamless message delivery across platforms and channels. This means that omnichannel retail will thrive in the near future.

A huge array of detailed user behavioral statistics is gathered into a single database. Therefore, it becomes easy to forecast the future directions of your business and set the right goals. Knowing how and when to influence customers’ will ultimately lead to better targeting and higher conversion rates. All the information that companies gather from customers helps to create unified user profiles, and personalize messaging accordingly.

Omnichannel advertising as a tool for omnichannel marketing

You can start creating perfect omnichannel ad campaigns in a few easy steps, using a DSP programmatic platform that supports all programmatic advertising channels, including mobile, in-app, desktop advertising mediums and delivers a unified experience across the screens.

Omnichannel advertising DSPs are easy to differentiate from basic solutions. Such a DSP platform will typically feature a whole lot of elements necessary for running the omnichannel campaign: multichannel ad formats, real-time optimization tools, insights generation. Such platforms enable advertisers to buy ad space automatically and in real-time.

As well, full-stack omnichannel platforms include supplementary tools like DMP or CDP that automate user data ingestion, arrangement, and segment building. Especially it can be valuable for omnichannel retail companies that have to deal with a multitude of customer segments.

Single vs omnichannel advertising: what do brands choose?

What is omnichannel marketing strategy? Before you start creating an omnichannel advertising strategy, it’s important to understand that omnichannel and multichannel approaches are not the opposite entities. There’s no omnichannel vs multichannel advertising competition. So, it doesn’t make much sense to compare them. Omnichannel experience is a consequential continuation of multichannel experience, but with a broader and more sophisticated approach towards an overall digital marketing lifecycle. If you've already adopted it, congratulations, from now on, you can focus on the bigger picture.

When it comes to a multi channel approach, a big bonus is that you are constantly building up newer distribution across multiple channels. However, it might turn into a significant con as well if these channels are not bound together for the creation of a holistic experience.

The only con of omnichannel advertising might be the lack of internal resources or required tools in medium and small-sized businesses. This lack, however, advertisers solve when they shift to the omnichannel DSPs. Such software doesn’t require any investments except the advertising budget that’s necessary for the ad campaign running. All media channels and the customer data necessary for targeting are already available in the system.

How to choose the right strategy for your brand?

As you see the strategies may differ in the number of channels used, the degree of their integration and the user data accumulation, and syncing. What would you choose as a marketer or media-buyer for online advertising or the retargeting campaign? Depends on the characteristics of your target audience and the objectives of the marketing strategy.

When your goal is to create a new sales channel, cross channel communication is something worth trying. An ad campaign for a heterogeneous or complex audience segment requires an omnichannel strategy. In this case, you can apply programmatic buying tools for ad serving. Buying programmatically will enable you to aim only for the right media where your users are (thanks to the targeting capabilities). You will be able to configure and adjust the campaign, the look and feel of your online ads, bids, characteristics of the demographics, budget and other parameters at any given moment of the campaigns flow.

On the contrary, if your audience is quite broad, a multichannel strategy will also work effectively. At the same time, it is important to understand what task you try to accomplish with your video or display ads (ad metric), who your target audience is, through which channels, and what content it consumes. In this case, an advertising network or advertising platform like DSP can also make it easier for you to buy ad space, organize campaign management, attribution, and cross-platform message delivery.

How many and which channels to choose?

The basic principle can be formulated as "you can’t afford to be excessive, yet, you can’t afford to be scarce" which means that the most important task will boil down to the correct channel prioritization. For instance, it is sure a nice practice to follow advertising trends but the channel selection should be based on channels that your target audience prefers.

For example, when launching a campaign for baby boomers you may focus on desktop ad inventory. Millennial media is mostly based on mobile sites and apps. While advertising to Generation Z, it is important not to forget social platforms where you can reach out to them directly: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. It makes sense to embrace all three online-media platforms. Not every Gen Z/milennial has an account on all of those social networks, so if you don’t embrace the one you can miss out on a potential customer. At the same time, connecting other channels like e.g TV won’t make much sense: one way or another, most of your target customers are scattered between those three popular social media channels.

Making omnichannel campaigns work on your side

An omnichannel approach to advertising along with instant machine learning advanced analytics help advertisers interpret users’ life cycle and augment their strategy accordingly. Leveraging advertising solutions based on programmatic you will bid on those impressions that strictly correspond to the chosen targeting criteria, budget settings, and frequency. This way as an advertiser you avoid the overspending and guarantee that your ad campaigns are relevant and effective.

To make a leap towards a better customer experience you need proper advertising technology. Omnichannel marketing capabilities are embodied in SmartyAds programmatic solutions and one of them is SmartyAds omnichannel DSP. SmartyAds omnichannel DSP provides advertisers with instant access to the top premium global desktop, mobile, and in-app traffic, and helps to serve all ad formats across verticals and channels. The solution enables a 100% automated media-buying process in combination with high-quality traffic for an effective omnichannel advertising experience. Thanks to extensive targeting options and various custom settings, advertisers can promote their special offers or notify their users about discounts right at the brick-and-mortar shop.

The last word

What do your customers want? They want your brand to perfectly understand their pains, needs, values, and engage with them in the right time and channel. This ultimate need gave birth to multi channel and omnichannel advertising and marketing approaches. Both have their differences and similarities but the core idea of both is to reach your target audiences on all mediums and devices to exclude the chance that your advertisement goes unnoticed. This can be achieved if you choose programmatic advertising solutions that have such capabilities onboard.

Using an omnichannel demand-side platform you can create cost-effective and efficient ad campaigns, purchase the best quality traffic that raises advertising ROI, and contributes to impactful omnichannel campaigns. Thanks to the limitless opportunities of programmatic advertising, marketers can easily create app-based campaigns as well, ensuring that highly personalized messages hit the right audiences in real-time.

Simplify and boost your marketing with an omnichannel advertising DSP platform. Register now!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
June 2019