Allow me to give you a scenario: You’re having dinner with your family, only a few days before the holidays when your son mentions this funny video he saw on Facebook. You reach for your phone to look it up, and of course- prior to being able to view the video- Youtube is forcing you to watch an ad for those socks you were thinking about buying, on Amazon, just hours prior.
You can’t help but think to yourself- “How did they know?”
Scenarios like this have become commonplace, in just about every modern household, thanks to “Big Data” and its effects on the everyday advertisement.
Today’s marketing as a whole is exactly the same. It’s being impacted, substantially, by this technology. The very essence of it is still as traditional as ever; give the people what they need. Or, better yet, give them what they want.
The earliest stages in the process have not changed a bit either– it comes down to Segmentation and Positioning. This much can be counted upon, time and time again.
Technology, however, is continuously providing newer ways and means to better identify the customer, the place, the channel, and its logistics, while determining the most productive way for an effective promotion. Along with analytics, this ever-evolving surge in technology provides a unique platform for any company, to shorten the life cycle of creation, and go straight to the marketing processes.
Now, before I go on, it should be noted that this concept is only interesting, or applicable if you:
- Have a personal profile in a social network site/app.
- Have a professional profile in a career networking site/app.
- Are followed, or follow someone, in a virtual space where you are limited to 140 characters or so, and can watch elected officials blurt out their thoughts on everything.
- Belong to at least one group in Apps for messaging purposes.
- Use GPS (or alike) for transportation.
You see where I’m going with this, so let’s face it:
it would be a lot harder to not check AT LEAST two of these.
So, let me break it down to the essentials: The things you carry in your pocket and the ethics to go along with them.
The Savvy Plastic:
If you happen to live in a vibrant economy, and/or in a developed country, more than likely all of your steps are being carefully followed.
But, by who?
Quick answer: A LOT of people.
And it was you, by your own practical merits, who gave them the permission to do so.
Do you remember all those pages, otherwise known as “the agreement”? That same one that gives you the “option” to “agree”, otherwise barring you from using the product or service? Yeah, that one.
Credit, or Debit, or whatever you feel like calling it, is no different– They know where you live, they have a list of all your purchases, where and when you bought them and they know when you have cash, and how much of it.
When you swipe your card at a retailer or click “pay” online, you are giving up all of this data. The bulk of it is going straight to the credit card company and, a lesser fraction, to the merchants to use however they please.
This begs the question: “Who knows me better: my mom, or my credit card company?”
Well, not to insult mama, and all her wisdom, but the knowledge “they” have of you, is greater with every purchase you make.
The ubiquitous companion:
You are a person that, by the force of social behavior(s), needs to be (at a minimum) updated with respects to technology, the world, and your closest surroundings. Not only that, but you also feel the need to conduct business, the old fashioned way… You know, having “conversations” (yes, actual conversations).
You also interact, socially or professionally, through a device, or an app within that device, and for that you need it to be quick, efficient, and “intelligent”. In other words, you, my friend, have the need for a “smartphone”.
The new and ubiquitous, anywhere-anytime “apparel”.
Regardless of the manufacturer, carrier, vendor, or even the operating system, you are constantly reporting where you are, where you’ve been, and/or where you’re heading to. How?
very simple, you are connected!
And it doesn’t matter if it’s to a cellular network, or to Wi-Fi, either– If you’re online, you’re trackable and are consistently broadcasting your pin-pointed geolocation, through a network of antennas, tuned to the GPS receiver inserted in your smartphone.
The majority of the Apps requiring GPS, also tend to be in gathering mode. They want, and need, to know where you are…. With mixed purposes, of course.
Take, for instance, a daily commute.
If you’re like me, you consider the time to be both precious, and money. To epitomize this, you use WAZE (or any other map app on your phone), to get from point A to point B, while trying to avoid traffic jams, accidents, and even the police presence in your route.
In exchange for these instant benefits, you (and all of your information) get to be tracked. And the best part is, when you link an app like WAZE, to your calendar and address book, it will keep track of your appointments and give you up-to-date recommendations on when to leave, and how to get there. But the genius behind it is best seen when it is applied to marketing– The more you give it, the more it gives you.
Think about it. You’re driving along on your way to work, when suddenly, you hear the ping go off on your phone. It’s letting you know that the 7-11 on the corner of that stoplight you’re on, is having a “going out of Slurpee” sale.
Amazing, but at the core; it’s no different than when google decides to auto-complete that search you just started typing up.
On one hand, it all might scare you, but on the other, it is also likely facilitating your life. Not all the time, though, because let’s be honest– how much do you really like Slurpees?
But for the most part, it is… At least enough for you to hold your thoughts, on that conspiracy theory about “the system”.
Today, there is not a single major retailer, mass media communicator, or advertiser, in the world that is not using this technology to provide a more accessible channel for delivering its goods, services, and/or content. The best, or worst, a part about it, depending on your views toward conspiracies, is that we enjoy it (okay, we love it), and we will continue to use it as long as it stays fancy, comfortable, and most importantly- convenient. What other reasons would we need to adopt it, with such minor or no complaints?
Today we love to just: click and buy (if we like it), text and reply (if it matters to us), ask and be answered (if it’s relevant to our objective).
But it’s all coming at the cost of our own “private” information.
The legal and moral “hope”
Depending on where it is you call home, you may be covered by your legal system, in one way or another. In the US, much of the so called “bulk of information” cannot be shared with, or divulged to, anyone not directly involved in, or affiliated with, the corporate marketing world. This is assumed to be a protection of one of the sacred “laws of the land”: the rights to privacy (or as I call it- the “rights to be left alone”). Even still, however, while some amendments varying from state to state have provisions for it, there is not an explicit one in our constitution, that outlines the extent of this reach for information. For now, we will just have to find comfort in the Fourth Amendment.
At the end of the day, the use (or overuse) of technology is only there to create a supposed advantage, over the hurdles faced by companies when reaching their target audience(s).
But, no matter which way you cut the dice, creating the right message is what makes a promotion effective, and giving the right shape and form to a product is what will, ultimately, make it desirable to customers. As much data as you may gather, and as much directed marketing as you may do, you WILL NOT sell a single product or service if you do not meet, or surpass, your consumer’s expectations.
This comes to show that (thankfully) not everything comes down to bits and bytes, or machines and devices. The human element is more relevant than ever before. After all; we’re still the ones handling the reins.
There is still an awful lot of human intervention along the marketing process/chain, so as much weight as this new use of technology may have, it is only as pervasive as we allow it to be… Or so I want to think, to help me sleep tonight.