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GUEST COMMENT Don’t fall short – meet consumer demand and demanding consumers

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If your retail strategy is taking your business across borders, you probably already know that marketing doesn’t always translate well on an international level. Marketers often struggle to establish the most effective method of reaching a global audience – do you translate your adverts, or hope that most people can read English? Do you schedule your campaigns so that they take time zones into consideration? Do you change the content to reflect cultural differences? After contemplating all of these elements, marketers can fall short if they don’t factor international web loading speeds into their campaigns.

As the digital landscape continues to develop, consumers are becoming less patient. They expect fast loading times, instant information and immediate answers to their questions. No matter where they are or what website they are browsing. In fact, according to research by Nielsen, around half (47%) of visitors expect a website to load in less than two seconds and 40 per cent will leave that website if the loading process takes more than three seconds[1].

When it comes to international web browsing, consumers expecting instant gratification often feel frustrated at slow loading times. It’s not uncommon to see people scowling at their phones or computer screens. In fact, it happens so often that actor Kevin Bacon has famously named it ‘buffer face’. Despite the fact that consumer tolerance is in short supply these days, marketers are still failing to meet consumer expectations on an international level. Recent research shows that the typical loading time for an online ad shown in Shanghai from a European-based server, for example, is 16.9 seconds. Similarly, a consumer browsing a European site from Beijing can expect a loading time of 15.8 seconds; this is a far cry from the level of service consumers are coming to expect from an online experience.

This is a major issue for advertisers looking to target consumers across the globe. Let’s take the example of buying a juicer online. A consumer might start by reading a review comparing the latest juicers on the market. At this point, a successful performance marketing campaign would ideally target that consumer with advertising to influence the purchase. However, if the ads don’t load correctly, or the link takes more than three seconds to load, the potential customer is likely to lose interest and look elsewhere.

Equally, when it comes to tracking sales, slow load times and delays across the global internet landscape are holding performance marketing back. If a sale is not tracked correctly, neither the publisher, nor the advertiser, will be aware of where the sale has taken place. This results in loss of revenue for publishers and an incomplete picture of where, when and how sales are being made.

Put into perspective, a single day of poor web performance could lose advertisers valuable customers who will turn to competitors’ sites instead of waiting those extra seconds. In addition, slow load times can dramatically reduce the ability of marketers to track a consumer’s online journey, holding back their marketing campaign as a whole.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this. A strong online performance marketing campaign should have global capabilities at its core, as well as the technology to keep up with today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape.

By using cloud technology to replicate tracking servers across the globe, it’s possible for marketers to automatically direct consumers to a server that will provide them with the best experience, depending on their location. This can improve loading speeds and tracking reliability five-fold.

Marketers can add further global capabilities to their performance marketing campaigns by allowing ad publishers to receive payment in the currency of their choice. This simplifies book-keeping and reduces currency exchange risk, against a backdrop of improved loading speeds and tracking results.

A successful international marketing strategy needs to start with a fundamental understanding of consumer expectations. Our need for speed must be built into any performance marketing strategy with care – especially when that strategy is crossing borders and currencies. As the digital landscape evolves and the world gets smaller, marketers need to take a proactive approach to beating ‘buffer face’ in order to meet consumer expectations and reap the rewards of the global market.

Jeff Johnston is VP product management at Tradedoubler

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