Admit it. You want my data. It’s understandable. I’m a very attractive demographic. I’m an urban professional. A suburban homeowner. A wife and a mother of small children. I’m that household-decision-making-mom that you fantasize about targeting. Observe just a small sample of the 100+ brands I’ll make purchase decisions about this month alone. If you have something to sell, you are probably trying to sell it to me.
Except for one thing. I’m also a digital marketer, so I’m on to you. I actually know you are trying to get my data — at the store when your clerk asks for my email address, when I see that banner ad for that site I visited once last week, when an ad pops up on Facebook for something I just searched for on Google.
Just knowing you are doing it makes me a bit more guarded about sharing my data and a little more critical about what you do with it. I’m a lot more likely to notice when you get it wrong and more often than not, you do.
The Myth Of The Average Consumer
So I’m actually not the average consumer. But then neither are you. No one is. The average consumer is an urban myth– which makes the traditional tactics we use to target them semi-effective, at best. They didn’t coin the phrase “banner blindness” for nothing. I block out a good 95% of the ads I see because they are meaningless to me.
The sites I visit online and the brands I purchase in stores give you a very fractured picture of who I am as a consumer and, to make matters worse, there’s a pretty radical disconnect between the real world action and digital one. There’s no easy way for Method to know I went from visiting their web site to buying their Wood for Good furniture polish at Whole Foods on a Saturday morning unless I tell them so. So what if I actually did tell them?
What Will People Tell Us?
In the last two weeks, I did the conference rounds, speaking at eMetrics in San Francisco and SXSW just this past weekend and big data was one of the biggest topics of discussion. How we can manage it, what we can do with it, what we should do with it — and, of course, what we shouldn’t. Inevitably, the conversation always turned to mobile and the implications it has for collecting data in the moment. It has tremendous promise for marketers in terms of getting targeted marketing and advertising right. But it’s not about what the data will tell us — it’s about what people will tell us.
While mobile presents numerous roadblocks to our traditional methods of tracking, it’s provided some surprise bonuses in terms of what users will willingly provide. Look at is this way. The average consumer doesn’t know she’s in a purchase funnel. She’s not aware that she’s on a customer journey. She’s trying to fulfill some very basic needs – i.e.
- To get information.
- To find a person, place or thing.
- To share information about that person, place, or thing.
There are many different permutations of this, of course, but essentially it all comes down to information gathering, way finding and connecting. And while the idea of us offering up data to advertisers to make that process more successful might seem unrealistic at first, consider Google Maps. Do you think twice before giving Google Maps the right to pinpoint your location when using your smartphone? Or when the Target mobile web site asks for your location in order to serve you offers for your local store? Probably not.
In fact, you are probably glad to do it. Just like iTunes and the App Store trained us to pay for digital content, location-based services are training us to volunteer our data and pushing us towards the precipice of a radical change in how brands market, advertise and distribute content.
Trading Data For Desire Fulfillment
This is where mobile has started to tip the scales and make things very interesting. We just want what we want when we want it — and we want it now. If giving up a small piece of data will fulfill that desire more quickly, we’re pretty open to giving that info up right away.
The shift has started, innocently enough, with location but it’s not hard to see where it might go. If anonymously offering up your gender — or ethnicity, or household income range, or hobbies — via mobile would make your search that much more efficient, result in offers and incentives, get you somewhere faster, can you say for certain that you wouldn’t do it?
The idea of preference-based advertising is nothing new, but maybe the time was never right for it in the past. Now things have changed. As consumers, we’re not as oblivious as we once were to the fact that you want our data. Even those of us who aren’t industry insiders know that when you ask for that loyalty card or email address at the register, you, the brand, is getting something very valuable out of the deal.
But we’re also more aware of the fact that there’s something in it for us and we’re more open to the possibility of getting it. Now that mobile devices have trained us to volunteer our location for contextually-relevant content or to check-in for deals, it might only be matter of time before we’re willing to give up more personal details — but only if it will make the exchange more valuable to us in return.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.