In any love story – any good one, at least – the power balance often shifts between the leading characters, who take turns in adoring and tormenting each other. The relationship between brands and consumers is no exception: each awards and expects to be rewarded, always under the pressure of the imperative “NOW”.

Romanticized by advertising, consolidated by public relations and reshaped by technology, this relationship has grown up in the digital environment and matured up to the point where consumers trend and brands follow, where the first act and the latter react.

This new hierarchy, while more challenging for brands, can become a great opportunity for them if they come to efficiently use data (whether consumer-centric, behavioral, or objective, like the weather or a religious holiday), the key to deliver what has become a universal brand promise – relevance and unique answers to unique consumer needs, offered at the moment these answers are needed.

With purchase decisions being made faster and faster in the consumer journey, real time marketing has risen as a potential consumer-first approach able not only to answer to these needs, but also to create new ones in a perfect context, and then to offer a solution for them at the perfect moment – thus adding value at each touch point of this consumer journey.

Trigger-based and highly targeted, real time marketing offers smart answers to unexpected questions, but also creates an honest, humane brand-consumer dialogue. It is, or should be, moment-centric on the short term and meaning-centric, on a long one.

Real time marketing should be a long-term strategy in the best sense that the concept has: always be open to new opportunities, be prepared to respond. Real time is quickly becoming a label that can be applied to each type of digital marketing and an umbrella that turns to a new paradigm – pay attention and seize the perfect moment to offer a solution and build strong, lasting consumer-brand relationships. – Cristi MIHAI, iManager, STRATEGAD.