Not all that many people use their Apple watch to order an Uber but it was important for the ride sharing service to give them the option so they could test the interface.

According to AJ Tills, senior marketing manager at Uber, marketers don’t need to be everywhere, just where their customers are today and where they’ll be in the future.

“I think it’s dangerous to say you should be everywhere. We should be able to be everywhere but it’s important that we are where our customers are now and where they are going to be tomorrow,” Tills said during a panel discussion hosted by Marketo in Sydney last week.

“We integrated with Apple Watch — being able to press a button on your wrist and get a car was pretty magical — but ultimately no one really used it and it’s not really used at scale.”

Looking to the future, voice is another interface that Uber is excited about, Tills said, referencing Uber’s recent integration with Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa in the US.

Speaking on the same panel, Benjamin Hallam, head of marketing at Airbnb, urged marketers to set aside some of their budget to test new channels and streamline the channels they currently use.

He argued marketers shouldn’t “buy media or track media for the sake of just being in that space” and should opt for channels which are in-line with overall business objectives — not just marketing objectives — and deliver a benefit to the customer.

“While you streamline, it’s important to test new areas,” Hallam said. “Make sure there is money set aside to test new territories, new channels and new platforms to get those learnings. You don’t know where your customers will be in the future unless you test the water in those spaces.”

Attribution challenges

Hallam said as companies mature and explore new mediums, such as Airbnb’s recent Super Bowl commercial, there will be times when measurement simply won’t be feasible.  And he said,  marketers shouldn’t get too hung up on finding the right attribution model.

“It just has to be something that the company believes in and goes ‘Yes this is the right thing to do. It’s the right evolution for our company to take into this space.’ There may not be immediate attribution models that you can see a return on, or which can determine if it was successful or not. But unless you’re taking those risks then you won’t be able to fully grow into each of the areas that.” Hallam said.

For Uber, Tills says the company is “still figuring out” how to measure the impact of its cause-related marketing campaigns, for example its partnership with Drinkwise which aims to discourage drink driving.

“I think it’s more important that we do it first and foremost. And then we figure out how we become accountable for it,” Tills said.

“For us, it’s about how many more people are choosing Uber to get home safely? Or how many more conversations can we have in this space so people know that it’s an issue to get behind the wheel when you’re drinking.”

Likewise for alcohol-fueled violence, he said.

“These are the big conversations that we want to have.”

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