Trend Tracking


Contextual Omnipresence

Content Specialist

Some brands are prone to bombardment. They buy up massive amounts of advertising space with zero strategic underpinning. Quite simply, it’s quantity over quality. For the biggest brands, this approach can work—ubiquity isn’t a bad thing, because they can afford it. For the great majority of brands, however, a system like this is both unwise and unfeasible. Instead, they must use extensive strategy to sharpen their arrow and find their exact target. And that’s how we arrive at contextual omnipresence.

With contextual omnipresence, smart brands are reaching customers through nontraditional channels in novel, nuanced ways. This trend is about positioning your brand to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, in a slightly unexpected way. This, of course, is not easy. It involves a deep understanding of your product, your audience and your audience’s relationship to your product. (This is best accomplished through brand research.) With a deeply researched and well-thought-out strategy, a brand can anticipate a consumer’s interaction with a product, and be there right when people want or need them most.

Contextual omnipresence is about positioning your brand to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, in a slightly unexpected way.

With so many nontraditional channels to reach consumers, brands across all sectors are beginning to employ contextual omnipresence. The Pebble Classic smartwatch can recognize what store its wearer has entered, and then identifies the credit card that will get the highest return points when used in that store. Chic French fashion house Pimkie found its perfect partner in Antwerp’s trendy Hotel Banks. Pimkie understood that the types of people who stayed at Hotel Banks are the same types of people who buy their apparel, so they arranged for their clothing, as well as assorted accessories, to be stocked and ready for purchase in all rooms in the hotel. Even Amazon, with its branded Dash Buttons, found a new way to make it easier than ever for customers to purchase products. (Whoever thought that a coffee maker could be a retail channel?) Contextual omnipresence really is all about anticipation.

In Spain, a groundbreaking research study was performed last fall that could have wide-ranging implications for this trend. Telecom giant Telefónica found that by looking at a person’s smartphone activity—examining factors such as the last time someone received a text or a call, the time of day or how intensely they’re using certain apps—they could reliably predict if someone was bored or not. They were successful an incredible 83% of the time. The Telefónica researchers then sent a news article to those who were deemed bored. The smartphone users who were perceived as bored clicked on the article at a much higher rate than those who were not, proving that there’s a new, totally untapped, though ethically questionable, channel for connecting with users.

This trend requires finding new ways to reach consumers. Who ever thought a coffee maker could be a viable retail channel?

Obviously, the line between online time and offline time has blurred. Any time can now be a good time to reach customers. When you pair that with the fact that customers now want more customization than ever before, you’re looking at an enormous opportunity area for brands. Not every brand needs to be ubiquitous, and not every brand should be. Think of fishing: There’s no need to cast a wide net if you know exactly where the trout are going to be.

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