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Digital advertising that fits both consumer and marketer

Tablets may well change digital advertising and increase conversion by fitting the digital advertising to the consumer’s preferences. Studies show that people engage with their iPads and other tablets at a higher level and have a higher level of trust. Consumers feel safer about storing their preferences on their tablet than with a web site. Digital marketers who make use of big data can target more effectively and improve their digital advertising success rate.

English: The iPad on a table in the Apple case
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Imagine you’re sitting on your couch one Saturday evening, reading the latest issue of Condé Nast Traveler on your iPad. As you linger over lush photos of Kauai, your favorite hotel chain, the Grand Hyatt, in partnership with your preferred airline, Continental, makes you an offer you can’t refuse: 40% off a vacation package for those two weeks in June during which you always take a big trip.

Plus, they say, you’ve got miles and points that will bring the price down even further. From the kitchen, your husband says: “Go for it.” One click, and you’re ready to pack your bags.

But here’s the kicker: you didn’t find this deal, it came to you. And what’s more, it didn’t find you using a marketing list or malware or a targeted pop-up ad based on high-level demographic data. It found you in a much more intelligent way: by understanding what interests you, what you prefer to buy, when you typically make buying decisions, and who influences you. It understands your unique combination of triggers.

Now, imagine you’re the marketer who created this deal – and many more, well, nearly like it.

Consumers and marketers may be on the verge of a new type of conversation: a silent dialogue. Three trends are rapidly converging: mobile, digital advertising, and big data.

Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Brian Sheehan, former executive at Saatchi & Saatchi and now a professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. At Saatchi, he worked on advertising campaigns for Toyota and Procter & Gamble as well as many other international brands.

Brian believes that tablets will fundamentally change digital advertising because they are changing consumer engagement. Consumers spend more time reading and playing games on their tablets than they do on laptops. And they’re more likely to do so while relaxing on the couch. What’s more, the conversion rate is higher on these devices.

None of this is surprising to anyone who has followed the numbers. But Brian added another observation. Because people tend to have a higher level of trust with their tablet, they are more likely to enter personal data into it. Thus, the tablet can act as a filter for that individual, pulling in only information that is relevant to the user’s personal interests. Brian cites Fuhu’s PinQ tablet as an example of one tablet that’s doing just that. He calls this “padvertising.”

This is a huge advantage to the consumer, because it eliminates privacy issues. They no longer need to enter information into websites, where they run the risk of it being stolen or misappropriated.

This idea immediately got me thinking about “big data” and the ability to market to increasingly narrow segments.  Big data has the potential to help marketers to define an incredibly nuanced buyer persona. This means that offers can be highly relevant both to the buyer’s interests as well as to the time and place of purchase.

Digital marketers will need big data to define the target audience and develop offers that are relevant enough to make it beyond the tablet’s filter.

For consumers, this potentially means less noise and frictionless shopping. Unlike personalization technology to date, this is accomplished without them unwittingly giving marketers any of their personal data or shopping history.

And, it’s not hard to imagine that as tablets become more sophisticated about capturing and analyzing its user’s personal data, consumers may find that they need to do less and less of their own research about brands, products, and services. By combining data from the social graph – recommendations from friends – and previous purchases (time, place, the consumer’s own reviews or ratings), the tablet’s own recommendation engine will improve.

For digital advertisers, it means using big data to match buyers with relevant offers and embedding those offers into relevant content. For example, a marketer might show a Vogue reader an offer of free shipping on the black dress featured in the article they’re viewing because it’s October, and the reader has a history of buying a black dress every fall for the last 12 years. Not that the retailer would know this information, as it’s stored safely in the tablet itself.

As Brian Sheehan says: “It allows the kind of cross-functional selling marketers dream about in a privacy-safe, user-controlled environment that consumers dream about. There is no more sharing personal information on the web, when your tablet can hold it and use it as a filter.”

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