Opti Channel vs. Omni Channel vs. Multi Channel – What Are the Differences and What Do They Mean for You (and Your Brand)?

By Stacey Hawes, US Chief Revenue Officer, Catalina

Consumer touchpoints are growing exponentially, making media activation more complicated as shoppers flit among thousands of channels and apps. The possible combinations are endless.

Increasingly, marketers are responding by taking an opti channel approach to activation and measurement. It means simplifying the customer experience, telling brand stories effectively and evaluating performance more accurately.

What is opti channel marketing?

Opti channel marketing shows how a shopper responds to specific media channels so that a brand can precisely optimize ad spending across those that deliver the best return on investment (ROI). This approach surfaced about five years ago, coinciding with the explosion of consumer touchpoints from a few to 500 or more for complex purchases. However, its effectiveness was limited because it wasn’t easy to measure many of those channels. Also, many organizations remain siloed and often have conflicting goals, which makes full orchestration across channels difficult.

But now opti channel’s popularity is gaining traction as the industry’s scope of measurement becomes more sophisticated, using better metrics than impressions and click-through rates. We can measure the performance of channels such as digital out-of-home, podcasts, and Connected TV (CTV). We also can identify and measure the purchasing behavior of thousands of target audiences by lifestyle and needs instead of relying on demographics. Combined, this 1:1 deterministic data and attribution measurement allows brands to consistently measure conversion across channels so brands can quickly determine what’s working when with which consumers.

An opti channel campaign matches creative and offers to specific audiences across a selection of media channels. In real time, a marketer can drop channels or audiences that aren’t performing well, shift dollars and narrow their focus, and ultimately improve Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

What’s omni channel marketing?

Omni channel marketing is based on the concept that a brand should be everywhere the consumer is. It grew out of customer demand for a consistent, seamless shopping experience across brick-and-mortar stores, mobile apps, online platforms, and more.

Omni channel emerged during the dot-com boom of the early 2000s. As retailers beefed up their online presence and smartphones made it easier for consumers to interact with brands on the go, it became important for all channels to work better together.

An omni channel campaign puts the consumer at the center and integrates online and offline touchpoints. It delivers consistent branding, personalized to the individual shopper. Messaging is based on previous interactions – from search to past purchases – and links to their stage of the purchase funnel.

What’s multi channel marketing?

A multi channel marketing campaign is often confused with omni channel, but there is a big difference. With multi channel, brands interact with multiple channels, but each one operates separately. This siloed approach is a function of how a company is structured, and few still operate this way. This approach often annoys shoppers who quickly weary of a brand that appears not to understand their behaviors or serve up relevant offers.

Multi channel marketing is as old as the advertising industry itself. It is grounded in traditional media channels such as linear TV and print, focusing primarily on brand awareness. It is less effective at efficiently driving purchase.


What’s the best way to reach shoppers?

Look for ways to use omni channel smartly and ultimately transition to opti channel marketing so you can target your most valuable buyers across optimized channels with purchase-based insights. Work with 1:1 deterministic, third-party enriched data built on sales performance to quickly tap into actionable insights.

With opti channel, marketers can narrow the focus but widen the impact of their advertising budgets. Instead of trying to stretch finite dollars across the proliferation of media channels, consider using opti channel to strengthen the connection with your customers by building more actionable creative messaging and executing more effective media buys.

To learn more, view our Adweek webinar "3 Steps to Making Omni-channel Marketing a Reality" or reach out to us at results@catalina.com.