These days, “Can you hear me now?” isn’t heard too often in our phone conversations, but in the early 2000s, when cell-phone usage was just on its way to becoming ubiquitous in the US, the phrase was a common one. “Can you hear me now?” was the verbalization of all the collected frustrations of cell-phone users in the technology’s early years.
Then, one day, Verizon launched its “Can you hear me now?” campaign, touting the fact that it was the leading provider of cell service in the US and that there really weren’t any other competitive brands out there.
More Than Just a New Phone
The actor at the forefront of the Verizon campaign, Paul Marcarelli, made “Can you hear me now?” into an art form for years before stepping out of the spotlight in 2011.
But in the middle of 2016, right around the time of the NBA playoffs, Marcarelli was back on screen, but this time, wearing a yellow T-shirt and campaigning for Sprint using the tagline “Do you hear me yet?”, as Co.Create reported. This strategy is known as competitive conquesting, and it’s fairly common among wireless network providers. Competitors amid a saturated market have to rely on consumers switching from one provider to another to gain new customers.
Competitive conquesting can mean something else in advertising. The term can also refer to a brand’s practice of airing or placing ads on second screens simultaneous with the content of competing brands. The aim is to target the same audience as a competitor, essentially poaching its existing customers.
More Than Just Data Points
Of course, competitive brands are often after the same audience. The growing use of television, mobile, and online data for audience targeting has only reinforced this reality. The difference is that now, with automated buying and omnichannel viewing, brands can be more strategic about how they go after their competitors’ customers.
In 2015, The Home Depot began running its television ads in conjunction with a paid search campaign pitted against its competitors’ TV spots, reported MediaPost. Ads for The Home Depot would display across second screens and mobile devices at the same time as TV ads for its competitor played. The campaign no doubt took advantage of automated technologies to aid in targeting and execution. Credit-card spending data is available for advertisers to categorize consumers based on their spend level. This information can be invaluable in reaching those consumers and convincing them to switch to another brand.
Automated buying affords brands the opportunity to capitalize on the competitive conquesting strategy: A brand can sift through rich layers of consumer data to optimize each campaign and more effectively target a competitor’s audience, turning that audience into a source of new customers.