Marketers spend a lot of time and effort trying to infer consumer behavior through the signals they leave online and offline.
We’re in an interesting stage here. In some ways, the tools are continually getting more sophisticated (and creepy in their accuracy). In other ways, they are a blunt instrument with a lot of potential to draw false conclusions. Or at the very least, an incomplete picture. The cookie, which has long been the mainstay of tracking consumer activity online, is crumbling, as consumers increasingly live in a multichannel world with screens that don’t talk to each other.
The goal for marketers is to develop more relevant advertising that performs better. There will continue to be a lot of innovation in this space as marketers think beyond the cookie to integrated (yet potentially intrusive) measurement tools. Ads will increasingly be based, not just on retargeting consumers that have already visited certain sites, but on a composite based on a huge range of online and offline signals, and inferring what those signals mean to predict consumer behavior.
And then, of course, there’s how consumers will react to an advertising world that tries to predict their needs and wants in an increasingly personal way. Will consumers see this future as utopian or dystopian?
Here’s a a cartoon I drew a couple years ago on this dynamic.
My post included a telling quote from Macy’s VP of customer strategy, Julie Bernard, that captures this dilemma:
“Consumers are worried about our use of data, but they’re pissed if I don’t deliver relevance… How am I supposed to deliver relevance and magically deliver what they want if I don’t look at the data?”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how marketers should work through this dilemma.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)