Real-time is a term bandied about at any given opportunity. We’re all guilty.

Most people’s understanding of real-time doesn’t go beyond ‘something happens now’.  This is not a problem, but given that real-time is the future of marketing, we should have a better understanding of it.

So what does real-time actually mean for marketing?

Let’s have a look at an example we’re accustomed to: a Google search, like the one for auto loans below. The genius of Google is to match intent with monetization in real-time.  This search for an auto loan shows results and auto-loan ads. A large percentage of consumers click on an auto-loan ad.  


A typical google search: auto loans

Imagine for a moment that Google worked like most enterprise marketing automation systems - days or weeks late, and mostly over email.

Two obvious problems here:

One. The delay between the search and the adverts. Consumers, powered by smartphones, now move at the speed of life, not at the speed of legacy systems.

Two. Email is out of context. 60% of consumer time is spent inside mobile apps -  not email.


Dissecting real-time. 

We talk about real-time as if it is a thing.

It’s not a thing.

It’s a thing that unlocks the thing.

On mobile, real-time unlocks the ability for businesses to communicate with customers in the moment and in the context of their immediate need.

Real-time systems underpin modern marketing. They let us know and anticipate consumer needs at precise junctures. They enable the marketer to design experiences that solve customer needs in the precise moment of that need.

At Swrve we term these ‘mobile moments’; the perfect moment for a brand brand to interact and solve need.

To illustrate, let’s look at a famous NatWest advert. It describes NatWest’s busiest branch as the 7:30am train from St Albans. In other words, NatWest customers are not in branch, but in-app.

Mobile banking in real-time

It was a brilliant campaign.  But one scene vividly captures the then and now of marketing.

It is the scene where this young gent checks his balance only to discover £8 remaining.

The scene ends where modern marketing now steps in. This is the perfect moment for the bank to reach out and help.

And this mobile moment is exactly what one of Swrve’s banking customers recently deployed.

They set up a campaign to reach out to customers when their balance first falls below $50. When triggered, it delivered an in-app message with a simple way for the customer to act.

Real-Time Marketing: What the Hell Does it Actually Mean?

Only with a real-time system can the bank design these experiences. Only with real-time system can their marketing respond individually to user’s states and anticipated needs.

The campaign results in terms of conversion are spectacular. No surprise really. The interaction is in the moment, and in context.

As marketers we default to words like conversion to denote success. But this masks the bigger achievement: the value added to the bank's brand from being there at moments of customers’ needs.

In the larger context this is where most brand value is being generated. One mobile moment subverts traditional marketing.