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The new extreme rules in marketing

The marketing world increasingly sounds like something out of the world of the security services as the primary conversations are around behavioural profiling, extreme targeting, big data and programmatic advertising.

Basically the race is on to use the unprecedented amount of information which brands now have about their consumers and their digital habits in a really effective way which connects personally with them. One of the obvious considerations is how to execute this without crossing an unseen line into an invasion of privacy.

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Direct marketing always has been concerned with targeting the right message to the right consumer at the right time by overlaying different data sources but digital has supercharged the discipline.
The practice of targeting users with specific messages or experiences based on their location, interests, browsing history, purchase history, demographic group and social circle is becoming a wholly mainstream practice.

A Google-sponsored study, found that advanced behavioural targeting increased return on investment by over 30% and this will not be ignored in the race for competitive advantage.
Extreme targeting within digital so far has been practiced mostly in search advertising, where the big players have been serving up ads hyper-tailored to users’ interests for years, but this opportunity is fast extending into the display arena.

New targeting possibilities are evolving by mixing first and third party data to identify users as they move from site to site using a variety of technology such as cookies, beacons and e-tags.
The huge growth in adoption of social will continue to drive this revolution. As people interact with each other, they volunteer a wealth of information about themselves – even ‘Likes’ are coded to enable your interests to be understand and sold.

In terms of digital media spend, what is called ‘programmatic buying’ is rising across the world (it’s expected to reach 50% of the US market in 2018) and will hit SA in force soon. Precise targeting will be increasingly practiced in real time using electronic marketplaces that will fundamentally reshape planning. Publishers, advertisers and intermediaries will bid for digital ads in an automated way connecting them with their target audience for a predetermined price at high speed.

In practical terms this means that as an online consumer clicks through a couple of sites his or her behavior is “read” and triggers a highly targeted message for which the client has pre-paid through a bidding process based on a demand algorithm.

Soon this will become the only way of buying across digital and media planners will become masters of those algorithms, fine tuning automation rules to maximize conversion.
Of course extreme targeting carries some pretty extreme risks.

A piece of brand communication which reads my precise needs and gives me an instant and easily accessible offer on the exact thing I am looking for in a way which resonates with me (and possibly tells me which of my friends have purchased the same item) with a simple click-to-order mechanism will add great value to my life, but one wrong step and the brand will feel like a repellent and creepy spy who knows way too much about me.

Getting that difficult balance right will be one of the fundamentals in the difference between brands winning and losing.

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