A new kind of funnel

Tyler Greer
By Tyler Greer | 25 May 2023
Tyler Greer

“Reports of my death,” wrote Mark Twain in 1897 following rumours of his demise, “have been greatly exaggerated,” He went on to express more disdain with the quality of the gossip than with the idea that he may actually have expired. Currently, we are having the same banter about our much revered sales funnel which, according to your choice of gossip, is either dying, thriving, or both.

Earlier this week Think News Brands released their latest industry report titled “Mighty power for mighty sales”. The report reaffirmed Total News being an indispensable tool for brand building and an incredibly reliable channel for driving sales at the bottom of the funnel.

The sales funnel has been amongst the most useful tools for marketers. It not only describes the consumer journey from awareness through to consideration and conversion, it also offers media planners a system to organise their thinking, helping to easily describe the roles of media channels as they relate to that journey. It informs creative around the message and kind of formats to be employed (long, short, big, small). It aids in implementing measurement frameworks to determine whether or not our campaigns are working. That it has been in use since the late 19th century tells us firstly that its structure is enduring and correct, and secondly that people don’t really change. 

But the media does. And the rise of e-comm is challenging the way we think about the consumer journey – if not its itinerary then at least its pace. In an era in which every digital touchpoint offers an opportunity for brands to convert consumers, the movement from awareness to consideration to conversion can happen in seconds. Sometimes in drunken seconds, as it turns out. This has several implications for the way we think about the roles of channels, creative and measurement.

Take video, the internet’s most ubiquitous and valued format. Not so long ago, video content’s sole purpose was awareness. Compelling content makes us more likely to watch it, especially when coupled with decent data and context that places it before the right audience. Today, we have more multi-dimensional considerations. 

Above all, video now plays the role of lead generation. According to the Wyzowl State of Video Marketing Report for 2023, 83 per cent of marketers say so. Thrown into that mix you will also find web traffic drivers, comprehension builders, and more. Video straddles the funnel from top to bottom, and can be purpose built to deliver on whatever role is required through a blend of creative calls-to-action, opt-in engagement, data-overlaid planning, and buying models to make it so. Amazingly, 87 per cent of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI, significantly about the 2015 figure of 33 per cent.

When it comes to e-comm, shoppable video is the new frontier and one that will change not only the way we think about content, but perhaps the way we think about the funnel forever. That’s because coupling inspiration and desire with a gateway to immediate purchase is the hot iron brands love to strike with most. 

Shoppable video is, if you buy the hyperbole, the death knell of the purchase funnel. In moving us from exposure to action with immediacy reduces the journey to a point at which we cannot make sense of it in a meaningful way. 

Shoppable video acts to solve several marketing challenges at once. Video has been shown to capture and hold attention at a level that surpasses other formats, delivering customer experiences in a way other formats cannot by telling a story, evoking emotion, providing comprehension; it offers a range of formats (short, medium, long; opt-in, skippable); integrating shoppability dramatically shortens the decision–making process, turning captured attention into immediate commerce; it can provide valuable data around media consumption and audience conversion. 

While it is customary to hold that smaller, more nimble brands often hold the advantage in the digital e-comm space (unencumbered as they are by large supply and manufacturing lines, deals with major retail partners, and the general ‘turning the Titanic’ drag large companies are inherently prey to), this may not be the case, at least not so far as the funnel is concerned. Shoppable video is still too young for us to say with confidence that those purchasing established brands through the formats are higher than those purchasing brands they have just discovered. In other words, how the first stage of the funnel beyond the ad unit has fed into the confidence to purchase within it. Possibly, yes. But, budgets notwithstanding (if such a thing can ever be notwithstanding), shoppable video offers less established brands the opportunity to compete by blending awareness, consideration and conversion into the same moment and, therefore, at a lower investment level.

Where does it all leave the funnel? In spite of the changes wrought by powerful executions like shoppable video, none of its stages are in peril. Awareness still matters, and always will. It is the chance to capitalise on its most inspirational moments. Consideration time may have contracted it, but the tools to explore more deeply are now available and coupled with an impetus to act. 

How can brands manage this? Beyond the background supply chain and sales issues, shoppable video ad units ask brands to think about their media investment in new ways. To ensure that the first point of the funnel is designed to support those interested in further exploration if not conversion. Offering gateways through to purchase in a way that is simple and strips friction from the decision making process, leveraging the moment of desire video is so good at cultivating. And considering the importance of the data which can be collected from those moving through the experience. 

So while reports of its death may be greatly exaggerated, its current way of existing in the world is mutating and, in doing so, offering new opportunities for both brands and customers. The brands using media’s most powerful tool as a way to drive intent will be the ones that live long and happy lives. 

Tyler Greer is News Corp Australia's General Manager Client Strategy, Solutions & Client Project Management News VIC & SA 


comments powered by Disqus