A few weeks ago, we talked about how consent and transparency with respect to consumer data usage are vital for businesses to thrive in the changing face of commerce. In this new age of pervasive commerce, businesses need to deliver the right product information to the right customer at the right place, every time. And while doing this, they need to respect the boundaries of privacy while achieving precision in targeting at the same time.
The rapid advancements in commerce and technology are increasing the touch points at which brands and retailers connect with consumers. So whether a person is walking by a store, reading a blog, or watching a television show, they can be targeted with an ad. Today, every interaction with a consumer is an opportunity to inform, educate, and sell products and services. But there is a catch. With freedom, comes responsibility.
Consumers are no longer passive observers of advertising. They are not browsing through a magazine or looking at a billboard that is designed for a large and rather vague demographic. With the amount of information that consumers are sharing about themselves, naturally they are expecting something in return. They are expecting higher levels of accuracy and precision in the ads that are targeted toward them. The level of irritation and disappointment with irrelevant and “spammy” ads is on the rise. And true enough. With the amount of data out there, businesses cannot shrug the responsibility of optimizing it and producing delightful product offers.
So, how can that be done? The perfect personalized product offer is formed at the intersection of customer intelligence and product intelligence.
Think of a local neighborhood brick-and-mortar store. Think of a shopper that has been going there for years and interacting with the same sales associates. There is a history of personal interaction. So when the shopper goes into the store, the salesperson needs minimal information about his/her needs. Because he has deep knowledge of the consumer’s preferences and shopping history, and also a deep knowledge of all the products that are carried in that one store. The final result is a sale and a happy, loyal customer.
This experience needs to be translated to the digital age for millions of consumers and millions of products. Accuracy and precision needs to be achieved for this complex matrix. There is already a deep level of consumer data available – demographic, psychographic, browsing behavior, preferences, etc. Now this needs to be combined with a deep level of data about all the products in the world – attributes, pricing, availability, channels, promotions, life cycle, etc.
Consider what Netflix is doing with motion pictures. They have tagged and indexed movies with hundreds of attributes to generate a structured and organized database of thousands of micro-genres. They combine that with the data they collect about their subscribers and are hence able to offer personalized recommendations.
When businesses achieve this level of deep data analytics, only then will they be able to match the right product with the right person at the right time. And this matching has to be seamless and unobtrusive. Personalized and targeted product offerings will become part of the daily flow of our lives and we will never have to see an unwanted ad again.