What is ZMOT? Yoli Chisholm’s 8 Insights for Advertising

In this episode I talk about ZMOT and recall the time I was hired to unpack ZMOT for a large Technology company. I share 8 marketing insights I tested and learned specific to ZMOT in digital advertising. Visit https://bio.fm/yolichisholm to connect with Yoli or www.yolichisholm.com


Some of you new marketers be might

be like ZMOT what the hell is that

well ZMOT is actually a term that was

at least in my memory coined by the

folks at google their research arm think

with Google and ZMOT stands for a zero

moment of truth


Hey everyone welcome to my show my name

is Yoli Chisholm and this is a show where I

sometimes talk about marketing in the

past – take a trip down memory lane and

also look into the future talk about

some tools and tactics that I’m obsessed

with or testing and experimenting and

everything in-between I love marketing

so let’s get into it… So one of the

things I’m going to talk about today is –

do you remember the very first time you

were aware of this transition into the

customer having control you know we tend

to talk about it as if it’s a new

phenomenon but it’s at least I remember

the earliest I remember talking about

customer centricity has always been

really as long as I’ve been a marketer

but a lot of times it’s been lip service

but the first earliest earliest memory

of talking about the customer having

control was actually at around 2011 and

this big tech company hired me and they

said to me I want you to figure out ZMOT

and figure out what ZMOT means for our

business what do we need to change

because of ZMOT for some of you new

marketers you might be like ZMOT what

the hell is that

well ZMOT is actually a term that was

at least in my memory coined by the

folks at Google their research arm think

with Google and ZMOT stands for zero

moment of truth

and around 2011 they wrote this ebook

around this notion of ZMOT and for a

moment let’s just talk about what how

brilliant that was in terms of just

naming a new change in behavior in

order to draw attention to it

and what Google brilliantly encapsulated

in ZMOT was that brands would have to

change how they go to market to map the

change in behavior that customers are

going through now I’m not telling you

anything you any b2b company today

typically starts their pitch deck with

the customers control but I wanted to

just give you to sort of tell you my

story of ZMOT so I got hired as an

individual contributor to and my title

was something ZMOT innovation and I was

put in an innovation team that was

actually focused on a new marketing tech

in a number of areas so I had peers who

were focused on trying to understand

social selling and what that means for

their or for the company as a whole and

ended up making huge huge inroads in

that discipline I had peers who were

focused on social media management and

really understanding what was happening

in social and enabling marketers and

accelerating the learning for marketers

in that space and one of the areas that

I delve into was ZMOT and what it meant

for our advertising and how we went to

market in advertising and so I’m going

to take you through a number of areas

that for you seasoned marketers are

might be no-brainers before the folks

who might be new to marketing in my

audience and I’m hoping this quite a few

of you just here are some things that

you might might be a value to you that I

took away from my time around 2011

in parsing what Google was trying to say

about the zero moment of

the zero moment of truth is that moment

when the buyer is in the process and in

the mindset to purchase a product in

your category and because the way they

navigate through the buyers journey has

changed you have to think about how you

show up in each tub touchpoint in the

buyers journey and so I had to think

about what did that mean for advertising

so for this particular org that I was

working at one of the big insights that

we got was just around the need to

switch our mindset from buying

advertising on specific publishers to

actually doing programmatic buying

because the touch points had become so

many right and there wasn’t just one

journey for each prospect it ended up

being necessary to kind of make the

switch for what most traditional digital

marketers had been doing with their with

their budgets big budgets was allocating

flat spend to specific publishers

instead one of the biggest changes we

made right away was moving to

programmatic and along with programmatic

as we continue to refine and learn and

understand how to use programmatic

effectively one of the other changes we

made was moving from sort of campaigns

that sort of have stops starts to

campaigns that can run evergreen and the

reason why this is key is because the

algorithms the AI that drives the

programmatic targeting and all of the

factors around performance learn over

time and learn and and you see a

reduction in your CPAs the longer the

campaign is in market and so instead of

having stopped start campaign

which basically reset your CPA we

switched to running campaigns evergreen

so the two insights there was we

switched from buying ads on specific

publishers because we had to broaden the

journey and essentially follow the

prospect as they navigate the web and

the second insight was moving from

campaigns that stop and start which

essentially reset the CPA to campaigns

that can run evergreen and essentially

you might start with a CPA that’s like

two hundred dollars if you’re in the b2b

market at the beginning of the year and

you might actually be able to get that

down to about thirteen dollars or just

I’m just giving you a scenario that we

have a real case scenario that we had in

this particular business

so those are two insights so the other

thing we learned was that it was no

longer just about the lowest CPA if you

think about your marketing mix you might

be running programmatic you might be

doing social ads you might be doing

sponsored content uncle or native

advertising on channels like outbrain

and Taboola

and typically at the time what what

markers are marketers would typically do

is you know if you’re optimizing your

campaigns week to week a month to month

you might look at what is the lowest

cost Channel that’s driving whatever

action you’re trying to drive and you

would reinvest in those lowest cost

channels and then you would divest out

of the channels that have a higher set

CPA and what with some experimenting and

some testing what we found was that it’s

not really about the lowest cost CPA

because because the buyers journey has

changed and because there are numerous

touch points in the buyers journey and

you’re following them all over the web

you it’s really about the assists and

the handoffs from one channel to another

and that in fact they’ve been a ton of

studies around the number of times a

prospect needs to see your

and offer native content before they

take an action it can be as many as 12

times and so if you are optimizing out

of other channels simply because they

have a higher CPA you actually might be

impacting your performance that in fact

it’s about doing integrated marketing

it’s about surrounding the prospect with

your marketing across multiple channels

and so your marketing mix actually needs

to be quite rich and how you optimize

the CPA ends up being in your targeting

and in the b2b space fortunately if you

know what you’re doing you’re ain’t know

who you’re going after you know the

organization’s and so it’s not so much

scale play it actually becomes more

about accountants marketing about more

smarter targeting leveraging first party

third party data etc and we’ll kind of

get to that that’s actually a good

transition to my next point so so to

summarize in that point it’s no longer

about CPA it’s really about integrated

marketing and it’s really about

assists of course that brings up all

other problems around attribution but I

have chosen to you know evolve with the

industry as the industry sort of learns

more about attribution but it’s not so

much a constant consistent focus all


the the other point that we learned was

really your website when you think about

SEMA and encourage you all to watch the

video in the e-book that that came out

about Seba and see much even though it’s

over nine years old at this point your

website is no longer the first or the

last stop in the buyers journey okay and

because of that that means that your

website and the content you display

there needs to change their B approach

because then you think about

if you think that your website is the

first stop you probably design your

siteĆ­s specifically if you think your

website is the last stop then you

probably know that the the prospect has

done a ton of research before they they

get to you and so top of funnel mellow

final bottom of funnel personalization

all those disciplines started to bubble

up because of this change in behavior

and and the notions around the c1 and so

for us it was really about how do we

rethink the website and one of the

things obviously that came out of that

was using retargeting if it’s not the

last stop then let’s just at least make

sure that we are cooking folks that land

at the site and then we can have

programmatic take over and surround them

around the web and I actually find I

actually think retargeting because of

the log or single cycles it’s actually

more beneficial for b2b marketers but

I’m biased because I’ve been in that

space longest okay the the other thing

we learned was obviously as I alluded to

earlier first and third party data right

like we found that because the buyers

journey was so disparate we needed to

have a ton more data and because we were

using programmatic we were actually

accumulating a lot more data and because

the visitor the website was the prospect

was visiting our website several times

and doing different things

we were accumulating a ton of data

because they were leveraging multiple

sites that were now and making their

data available there was the need to

have access to that third-party data so

and combining the first party and third

party data became possible through the

use of DMPs and that leads me to my next


so it’s the same period

then we I actually made the decision to

bring advertising in-house because of

the need to have a lot more control in

terms of how we leverage the data from

much smarter targeting how quickly we

wanted to optimize and execute campaigns

how quickly we wanted to be able to

scale creative development and and the

versions of of creatives that needed to

be developed it became much easier when

we had all of those resources in-house

so went a little bit rogue and and

brought advertising in-house and that

was really cool a really cool experience

to learn how to build an ad agency

in-house and bring those skills and

capabilities in-house and but it was

really fueled by the desire to have

greater control of our data and optimize

our campaigns in a much more accelerated

pace so what’s the last point so the

last point I can share was you know and

for most of you sort of more senior

marketers you’ll be familiar with this

notion of above the line advertising and

below the line advertising for for some

of the newer marketers you might have it

referred to sort of your brand awareness

marketing versus your direct response

marketing and in a lot of organizations

those might actually be two very

different teams that do campaigns in

silos siloed landing pages etc and one

of the insights that you know we learned

during this period to some sort of very

degree of success was that those teams

needed to collaborate more because if

you imagine there’s a big where we’re

investment in brand awareness campaigns

that are being driven to a specific

landing page you should at least be

cooking those paid pixel in those pages

so that you can build cookie pools so

that the direct response team can


those cookie pools and then if they’re

doing marketing automation they can they

can kind of have a handoff and and

continue to nurture and so it became a

lot more necessary to sort of have cross

team collaboration between those teams

and actually you know if you’re

fortunate enough to be in a position

where you get to you know build an

marketing organization from scratch I

would encourage you not to have those as

separate teams or at least foster a lot

greater collaboration but if you are in

a you know established large

organization there’s a ton of

opportunity if you are not making sure

that the direct response team leverages

the data that is being driven by the

brand awareness team you’re missing out

on a huge huge huge opportunity so let

me summarize so there were like six or

seven insights that came out of ZMOT and

looking into the zero moment of truth

and and really what I so what I have

translated that into now as we do modern

marketing its number one on my sort of

pillar of marketing excellence it’s to

win the buyers journey and and so that’s

how I’ve translated ciment

into the kind of marketing I’m doing

today is you’ve got to win the buyers

journey and that means you need to know

the touch points in the buyers journey

for your business so you know if you are

buying ads on specific publishers and

you’re not leveraging programmatic

there’s a ton of challenges obviously

that we’ve learned over the years with

programmatic but if you execute it well

you can broaden the number the frequency

and the scope of how your prospect

encounters your messaging beyond just

one or two or three or four even ten

publishers – all a lot more publishers

because they the bar

buyers journey is so is a lot more

brighter and so you wanna want to

leverage programmatic in a smart way you

want to run campaigns year-round vs.

evergreen AI isn’t everything but AI

needs to learn okay so if you’re

stopping starting campaigns you might

think a channel isn’t effective but it

might not be because the channel isn’t

effective it might be because you’re not

running it love the campaigns long

enough and before you start to run

campaigns on certain channels you need

to make sure you’ve got enough budget or

you’re much more strategic with how you

allocate your budget over time so that

you can accelerate the learning upfront

and run the campaigns for a little while

or period of time it gets more

sophisticated the more data you have

obviously but forget the stop and start

campaigns one campaigns longer if it’s

ended within your power to do so the

other insight was really about no longer

about a lower cost of CPAs all about to

assist all about the frequency of your

message you need to be getting your

message in front of a prospect over 12

times okay that means multiple channels

that’s integrated marketing okay so if

you have a senior leader who comes to

you and just says we want you to do

LinkedIn marketing that’s one channel

okay think about how frequently you go

to you know whatever publisher it is and

I just picked on on LinkedIn we love

LinkedIn interns one of my biggest

partners but it could be XYZ publisher

you want to make sure that folks

understand that what’s more effective is

integrating integrated marketing across

multiple channels then the fourth was

your website is no no longer just your

first or

last stop for your prospect so how do

you change the design of the website

with that in mind and what are you doing

to make sure that if they do visit your

website then you capture enough data to

optimize their experience while they’re

on your website and while they’re

elsewhere navigating across the web the

4/5 point was really leveraging first

and third party data most of you are

already doing that hopefully you are

leveraging things like custom audiences

using a sophisticated DNP and if you are

so lucky to have the opportunity to

sometimes have some aspect of your media

buying brought in-house that can be cool

and fun now I work for organizations

that have had both you know and just

leverage it for specific campaigns

working with an agency because agencies

have a lot of value in terms of driving

the scale play and then you might also

have an aspect of your business where

your advertising is in in-house and then

above the line below the line

blurring those lines cross team

collaboration really trying to drive the

mix and balance between brand awareness

and your direct response marketing so it

was a fun time diving into ZMOT and

diving into zealot actually helped us as

marketers really refine and improve our

skill set because the buyer had changed

buying behavior had changed and because

of that we had to change as marketers so

thanks for taking that trip down memory

lane with me and I’d encourage you to

look into ZMOT and just a side note you

know if you are in a business where you

you might need to drive a change in

behavior you know call coming up with a

name for it is a great marketing tactic

really really smart you know one of my


a b2b brands like Drift with their

conversational marketing another really

brilliant way of calling attention to

either a new discipline or a new

category and for me that was the so ZMOT

was a good way to kind of encapsulate

that the customer had control and that

brands needed to think about what they

were going to do to change to optimize

their go-to-market strategy until next

time make sure that you are following on

all your preferred social media channels

hit the subscribe button if you’re

watching me on youtube click the

notification button and I will see you

soon thanks


Work with Yoli

As the Marketer and Speaker - Yoli is available for Keynotes, panel discussions, podcasts, interviews, guest appearances and more on Modern Marketing, Digital Transformation and the impact of technology in marketing performance management.

As the Author - Yoli talks to women, young people and professionals about navigating the corporate world with intention.

As the Advisor - Yoli is interested in Advisory roles for Technology businesses BtoC and BtoB where she can provide guidance on growth and go to market strategies.

Companies Yoli has worked for:

Download Yoli's Resume and more

Ask How Yoli Can Help You.