Consumer Journey

How to Adapt to the Consumer Journey Evolution

Dustin McManus
October 2, 2023

Consumers – they sure don’t shop like they used to. A survey from McKinsey reveals that 75% of consumers adopted at least one new shopping behavior since COVID. Yet another undeniable proof point that the digital consumer journey is evolving.

Unfortunately, many brands still advertise and sell to consumers based on outdated shopping habits and behaviors. This despite the fact that the consumer journey has become increasingly complex, fragmented, and omnichannel. 

So, how can brands adapt and succeed in these ever-shifting tides? It starts with meeting consumers where they are and ends with a properly defined measurement approach.

The current digital consumer journey at a glance

It’s clear that the digital consumer journey no longer begins and ends at a search engine. adMarketplace’s proprietary survey of consumers revealed a number of channels online shoppers employ when searching for products. These include:

  • Search engines (Google, Firefox browser, etc.)
  • E-commerce websites & apps (Amazon, Walmart, etc.)
  • Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services (Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, etc.)
  • Online retailers & apps (Nike, ASOS, etc.)

Meanwhile, the digital advertising ecosystem stands at a whopping $250B valuation, and that number continues to grow. With this impressive growth comes increased complexity for marketers. In fact, 91% of marketers agree advertising is getting more complex. This is due to a number of factors:

  • The proliferation of media buying tools
  • An increasing number of media channels
  • The adoption of new consumer technologies
  • Inconsistent measurement tools
  • Reduced access to user targeting signals & inputs to measurement models
  • Walled gardens

A more complex advertising ecosystem mandates new strategies and approaches beyond what is viewed as the typical search experience.

The expanding definition of the consumer search experience

As the digital consumer journey evolves, so too does our concept of what constitutes “search.” The most common misconception is that search = Google. In reality, there are millions of searches happening outside of search engines and their results pages (SERPs). 

  1. Search is also e-commerce - Major e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay currently rank in the top three search destinations for U.S. shoppers alongside Google.
  2. Search is also social - Any social platform (Instagram, TikTok, X, etc.) with a search bar has discovery and media potential. 
  3. Search is also omnichannel - Consumers are using a combination of channels to search for and ultimately purchase products. This includes searching online or using mobile retailer apps while physically shopping in-store.

Brands must take into account all of these various channels and methods consumers are using to find and pay for products today.

The Digital Consumer Search Journey

Why accurate measurement is crucial in the evolving digital consumer journey

Understanding the multitude of factors that drive new sales today isn’t easy. Even more complicated is predicting and quantifying human behavior within the consumer journey.

What is clear, however, is that constantly relying on the same advertising methods leads to diminishing returns. That’s why incrementality is so important when it comes to advertising effectiveness in this new digital consumer journey.

Brands looking to reach the most consumers across this evolving journey and maximize their revenue opportunities must adopt a number of different measurement methodologies. These include:

  • Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM), which empowers CMOs/CFOs and their teams to align on budget and allocation based on ROI, ROIC, and CAGR goals.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA), which enables media buying teams to make budget decisions based on last touch data in the consumer journey.
  • Holdout Incremental Tests, which aligns sales and finance teams to assess which media segments are driving sales and are profitable channels.
  • Causal Impact Tests, which help forecast sales and compare the effects of new media in your portfolio.

This combined approach unlocks more actionable insights for marketers. Factoring in data hygiene and integrity is the best way to ensure accurate measurement where you can trust the data and results you’re seeing. Brands that do so see increased outcomes and performance as a result. 

Unlock opportunity at the moment of intent

adMarketplace’s suite of innovative search media solutions target consumers throughout the digital consumer journey: specifically before, during, and after they search. We partner with brands, publishers, and distribution partners to optimize and diversify their media portfolio to achieve an incremental return on ad spend (iROAS).

Learn more about how adMarketplace can empower you to create a more ideal shopping experience for consumers by visiting our solutions page today.