By Shelby Healy – Microsoft Advertising

In the past, retailers had a linear, predictable and controlled marketing channel to consumers that went from ads, to mailer, to catalogue, to call, to store visit, to sales representative, to purchase. Today it is all about multi-channel and community which now involves multiple online elements such as search, online chat, track purchase, and uses tools such as price comparisons, blogs, social networks and more. Today’s retailer needs to deliver content that is relevant, engaging and personal in order to build trust between the consumer and the brand.

In order to deliver what consumers desire, retail brands must reach their audience across the various channels of interaction. According to eMarketer, retailers accounted for 20% of all online advertising spend in the US in the first six months of 2012. For fast-moving consumer goods, advertising online delivers the highest ROI of all paid media, second only to cinema and with particularly high impact on impulse purchases as reported by  Brandscience in their study, “Exploring Digital ROI for FMCG Brands."

And the online advertising industry is growing. Global spend has been predicted to reach $101.5 million this year (ZenithOptimedia). Digital advertising is therefore a critical component for the retailer who seeks to engage consumers with a multi-channel offering.

El Corte Ingles, the largest retailer in Spain with 70 department stores and 30 hypermarkets has more than tripled its revenue since 2010 through online advertising. El Corte Ingles took advantage of the breadth of the media platform and the consumer connection offered by Microsoft Advertising. ECI ran a St Valentine’s campaign across Xbox and Windows Phone, were the first retail advertiser to run an advertising campaign on Skype and recently launched El Corte Ingles advertising for Windows 8 Ads in Apps.

 

Monoprix, the retail distributor with 296 department stores and hypermarkets across France ran the “9 Day” campaign targeted at women between the ages of 25 and 49; amplifying their reach across MSN and Windows Live. The online campaign increased the number of visitors to their stores by 10% and the average purchase bundle of MSN/Windows Live users increased by 39%.

 

Target, the second largest discount chain in the US with over 1800 stores turned to Microsoft Advertising and Phluant Mobile to develop the “Dynamo”, the first cross-device dynamic mobile circular that utilized a real-time data feed that dynamically optimized ad creative based on a combination of the user’s location and relevant local offers. The Dynamo leveraged targeted mobile web and in-app media to reach parents across MSN, MSN Travel, MSNBC and Fox Sports. Among those who interacted with the Dynamo, just over 22 percent of consumers signed up to receive SMS deals to their phone for later in-store redemption.

 

Sainsburys, the UK retailer with 576 supermarkets and 497 convenience stores have chosen to actively engage with their community to build loyalty and drive customer conversion through their partnership with Microsoft and MSN Food.

Microsoft Advertising can help retailers connect with consumers online in creative, engaging, relevant and effective ways. To find out more visit: www.microsoft.com/advertising

This post originally appeared on the Microsoft Advertising blog.