Atlas Solutions

Move over 4Ps, the 4Cs have arrived

The “4Ps of Marketing” have been etched in stone since 1967, when Philip Kotler first introduced them in his book “Marketing Management.” This industry classic has graced the desks of most marketing professional since then. Historically, the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) provided a crucial framework for marketers, but in our modern era, the proliferation of devices, channels and mobile consumers demands that we update this established thinking.

4Ps → 4Cs


Product → Choice

It used to be that when you walked into a grocery store, there were 50 kinds of breakfast cereal at most. Today, there are hundreds. Cheerios now has 15 varieties of cereal for sale alone.1 Grocery stores have evolved into massive supermarkets built to contain the vast and growing variety of products available to us today. Online shopping has followed the same pattern, yielding a virtually endless supply of products that are constantly being replenished.  Product has evolved into Choice, obliging brands to meet nuanced consumer demand with highly relevant and personalized products. For marketers, this means advertising has to become more relevant and personalized than ever before. If consumers have the potential to see hundreds, even thousands of media messages each day, it’s our responsibility to ensure that every touch point counts.

Price → Convenience

Convenience and immediacy define modern culture. With the advent of Amazon Prime, Google Shopping and food delivery apps and services, consumers can get whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. A single market-defined price point is no longer the norm, because advances in technology – particularly in the mobile realm – allow marketers to capitalize on shifting supply and demand curves. Uber is a prime example of a “born-mobile” company. They offer supreme convenience to customers, which in turn enables them to charge more via “surge pricing” when demand outpaces supply. In 2015, people spend three hours a day2 on their mobile devices. They demand that infinite choice in products and services be accessible from the palms of their hands. Price has been usurped by Convenience – and mobile has enabled convenience in a way that’s never been possible before.

Place → Cross-device

“Place” used to mean the end cap or eye-level shelf at a grocery story. Today, with 25% of people in the US and UK using 3 or more devices each day3, place is no longer simply where a transaction happens; place is everywhere people are as they move across devices throughout the day. Forty percent of people begin browsing on one device before finishing their transaction on another. Place has shifted to Cross-Device, the ability to deliver marketing messages anytime, anywhere.

Promotion → Creative Sequencing

“Promotion” used to simply mean advertising. We’re now living in a world where consumers experience hundreds, if not thousands, of media messages each day. Digital formats are critical to storytelling, though the order in which you tell the story is equally as important. How do you know if a consumer saw your brand ad before your DR ad? How do you know if your video format works better before a static format, or vice versa? Today, Promotion has shifted to Creative Sequencing. Advertising is not just a single message that moves consumers from awareness to purchase; it’s finding the right order of messages to tell the most impactful story when consumers are most receptive.

What’s not working today?

It’s critical to assess the technology you use to reach people and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns in our mobile, cross-device world. Cookies are currently the de facto standard for targeting and measurement, but they have big limitations. Cookies don’t work on mobile, and by definition, this means they can’t work across devices. Recent Atlas research found that cookies overstate reach by 30% and understate frequency 23%. Additionally, they miss about 15% of conversions4 and are only 65% accurate when targeting based on age or gender5– slightly better odds than a coin toss.

The solution

To implement the 4Cs and realize the vast potential of your marketing efforts in a mobile, cross-device world, making the shift from cookie-based marketing to people-based marketing is key. People-based marketing enables brands and publishers to reach an actual person in a specific demographic seamlessly across any device. People-based marketing allows persistent reach over time so marketers can stitch together a true conversion path from first impression to sale.

Simply put, people-based marketing makes the principles of the 4Cs a reality. By putting people first, you can provide Choice to customers in the form of highly targeted, highly relevant advertising. You can provide Convenience in the palm of their hands every day on mobile. You can reach them as they move Across Devices hundreds of times each day. And when you know your audience, you can tell a story through Creative Sequencing that ensures your messages are seen in the right order as you walk consumers through the conversion funnel.

1 General Mills, Cheerios Product List, as of 4.29.15. Retrieved from:
2 eMarketer, US, September 2014
3 GfK ”Multi-device usage study” commissioned by Facebook, Nov-Dec 2013; US & UK; n=~2000
4 Atlas internal data, December 2014; median of top 15 advertisers with both large and small campaigns
5 Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR), February 2015