On the day the World Cup was to kick off, Dan Clays, managing director of interactive agency Quantum Media, had an idea. Within a few minutes, his client Domino’s was buying keywords on Google to ensure that anyone searching for the World Cup that day would see an ad for pizza at the top of the sponsored listings – on the basis that those watching the game at home would be too busy to cook.
Welcome to “just-in-time” advertising, adapting a term from the industrial 1980s when it was most closely associated with Japanese car companies’ manufacturing practices.
In advertising terms, it can mean two things. The original idea was for agencies to quickly deliver ads to clients so they could tactically respond to events and competitor activity. But, more pertinently for the internet, it can also mean delivering ads to consumers just as they are about to make a purchasing decision – something the responsiveness of the Web is well placed to capitalise on.
“Consumers respond to advertising when it’s most relevant to them,” says Clays. “Building in the factor of time becomes really important. When someone sees the ad they can connect with it, because it’s time sensitive and it creates a sense of urgency.”
Others have seen the potential of creating the online equivalent of supermarket check-out counters filled with sweets for those impulsive
store to make a purchase,” adds Hess. “This makes the role of advertising – especially just-in-time advertising – and the buying cues even more important.”
For a brand based around timeliness, such as a pizza delivery company, this fits neatly into its business model. As Domino’s UK head of marketing Robin Auld says: “When someone wants a pizza they typically want it straight away.” He reckons that pizzas are one of the most efficient fulfilment operations on the Web, and the process from deciding to order a pizza to it being delivered, eaten and the box put in the bin can be less than an hour.
Domino’s is testing other ways to link in with events on a time-sensitive basis, including a countdown clock – which it first tried ahead of the Champions League European Cup final earlier this year. Using technology from Flash Talking, the ads have a clock counting down the time people have left to order a pizza before kick-off, and are being tried again during the World Cup.
The tournament has led to new records for online ordering, according to Auld, though presumably not in Scotland or Wales. But even if the England team doesn’t get much further, the motivation for making Domino’s advertising even more timely and efficient will continue.
“There are lots of opportunities to try new things and take small risks,” says Auld. “Big TV events are always very strong for the brand.”