Back-To-School 2016: How Shopper Marketers are Shifting to Active Intent Strategies

by Rich Kaminski, Yieldbot  

Second only to the winter holiday shopping season, back-to-school (BTS) shoppers are predicted to spend more than $67 billion in 2016. (That’s a whole lot of No. 2 pencils.) Not only are consumers spending more, they’re shopping earlier. While many consumers wait out last-minute deals to complete their list, over 60 percent of consumers have already made plans to spread their BTS shopping throughout the summer.

What are shopper marketers doing to make sure their message is getting to every back-to-school shopper at the exact moment they’re ready to make a purchase? We met with a lot of these marketers at IRI’s annual Growth Summit, and they were eager to share how their methodology and tactics are changing to match the consumer mindset – especially during critical shopping seasons like back-to-school.

A constant theme throughout the event was the shift in how people are consuming content. As digital and mobile environments grow, people are beginning to consume content in isolation (alone and on their mobile devices), making it more fragmented than ever. Although this poses a challenge for brands, marketers, and media technologies alike, it creates serious demand – and momentous opportunity – for localized personalization and real-time data solutions. Here are a few other trends shopper marketers shared with us about how they’re navigating the back-to-school shopping season:

Targeting to the masses is no longer a feasible way of executing media strategies.

Messaging needs to be specific to each individual. Andrew Appel, President and CEO of IRI, urged marketers to expect everything to be dynamic and real-time, measure the impact of every consumer action, and move quickly because speed matters. At Yieldbot, we heard that message loud and clear (because it’s one we’ve been shouting from the rooftops): companies that can market to consumer needs in real time, and also measure those actions to make better decisions in real time, will have a massive advantage over their competitors.

Mobile messaging is most effective when it aligns with the actions taken by consumers in the moment.

Julie Krueger, Director, U.S. Retail Industry at Google, and Gary Vaynerchuk, head of VaynerMedia and a successful entrepreneur and investor, led an interesting discussion on message relevancy and how it links directly to a marketer’s ability to align their message with the actions consumers take while they’re consuming content. Particularly important on mobile, brands are beginning to understand the importance of digital media and shift massive budgets toward this channel. The talk also referenced the move towards programmatic buying and its much-debated strategy in the industry. Is buying media in this manner an effective way for brands to automatize budgets, “optimize” sooner, and lock-in on inventory at cheaper rates? Yes. But brands that choose this buying method often have to pay increasing rates to avoid low viewability, ineffective targeting and, even worse, ad fraud. By dropping a cookie on users, following them around the internet, and then creating substitute segments and models to reach users who complete similar actions across the web isn’t as effective as meeting a consumer in the moment, when they’re ready to make their decision.  

Our technology is really cool and truly standalone in the ad tech industry.

Most of the concepts driven home by speakers point directly to why Yieldbot has become a strategic partner for agencies and key solution for the brands they work with. Do we market to consumer needs in real time? Yes. Do direct integrations on Premium Publishers allow our technology to make performance-based ad serving decisions that are relevant to those consumer actions? Yes. Does our technology collect and measure data in that exact moment to dynamically optimize advertiser dollars to improve performance and efficiency over time? Yes. Game, set, match.

What’s next?

Yieldbot is expanding its partnership with IRI in 2016 to prove that consumer clicks lead to in-store sales. This partnership will continue to be an effective tactic for our brands to measure the impact their ad dollars have on in-store sales lift at key retailers.

A shift from mass messaging to personalized communication is happening right now. Shopper marketers who deliver relevant information that meets consumer needs, can act quickly, and have a mobile-first mentality will rise to the top this back-to-school season and beyond. Yieldbot is ready to help brands meet this challenge head on.

You can read the original version of this article on Yieldbot’s site here. For more information, including on how to optimize your media campaigns, please contact


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