Personalization of the digital space

Personalization has come to the forefront for both advertisers and consumers.  Consumers want to see content that’s relevant to them and advertisers want to reduce wasted impressions on consumers that don’t find their ads relevant.  Last week, Yahoo released a website powered by their Content Optimization and Relevance Engine (C.O.R.E.) which lets users customize their results based on demographic categories of their choosing. See it here.
The Yahoo homepage is already personalized – 13 million different variations of the page (based on past activity) are served daily. But with the new beta site, Yahoo wants to go beyond computer history in an effort to hyper-personalize. A few months ago, Yahoo began integrating some of its sites with Facebook, letting users share articles and see what friends are reading. So far 25 million people have already opted in to the service – a number far higher than any initial projections.

But is the world ready for this hyper-personalization? In a recent survey by Ask Your Target Market, 84.5% of respondents said they do not like the idea of personalized search results or they have privacy concerns about them. But some argue that consumers don’t think about personalization in the correct way. For instance, consider the following question:

When searching for football, do you think Americans and Europeans should see the exact same results?

The answer is likely going to be “no” – highlighting the advantages of personalization. So then the issue becomes privacy (another hot topic at the moment). The biggest room for improvement is in the mobile space. Mobile users can be targeted not only by operating system and browser like with a computer, but also by the device’s unique ID as well as real time location information. Many mobile apps and sites did not even have privacy policies as few as six months ago. An easily identifiable, brief and clear privacy policy needs to be a priority for app developers; not an afterthought.

In an article titled “In 2012, Data Integration Makes Marketing More Personal, Targeted, and Relevant”, Heather Blank, VP of Strategic Services at Responsys hypostasized how the marketing landscape will evolve:

  1. Integration of social data will drive marketing personalization.
  2. Display advertising will shift from an acquisition channel to a relationship-marketing channel.
  3. Mobile marketing will become easier to read and even more targeted.
  4. New filtering functionality at all the major ISPs will cause open rates to drop.
  5. Geo-location data will be used across channels.

What does this mean for the advertising world? As consumer’s experiences become more personalized based on content of their choosing, advertisers will be able to follow suit and create a better environment with highly targeted ads, however marketers need to ensure they understand the business practices of the partners they work with as well.  There’s nothing worse for a brand than targeting consumers by exploiting a flaw in an application (think back to the days of spyware ads).

Finally, personalization is becoming more relevant across other media as well. Systems like Xbox Kinect (which detects the user’s movement and allows a user to log into their Xbox Live account simply by walking into the room) may soon be able to determine whether a person is actually looking at the TV screen or not. In the near future, a similar device may be able to detect who exactly is watching TV and in turn air appropriately targeted commercials.

Personalization of the digital space was last modified: February 15th, 2012 by R&R Partners

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