The annual tech and innovation fest gets under way in Cologne this week. This year’s tantalising premise is that, “Digital is everything — not every thing is digital.” Why? Because digital marketing is about to get personal, according to OMD Europe managing director of global accounts Steve Blakeman.
In recent years there has been the perennial focus on smart data, the internet of things and convergence. But, this year the ‘tip of the spear’ will be about people-based marketing. As all forms of communication become increasingly addressable the undeniable truth is that we now have the capability to reach people on a one-to-one basis and that represents an opportunity to speak to consumers in an eminently personalised fashion.
Delivering relevant messages to an individual based on registered user data, on a specific identifiable device and doing all that at scale, basically, means that marketing will evolve beyond all recognition over the next decade. From ‘marketing to the many’ to the ‘marketing of the individual’ will virtually eradicate wastage and revolutionise the way we interact with consumers and augment their online experiences. All sounds very ‘Minority Report’ doesn’t it?
Since the advent and meteoric rise of programmatic over the past few years, we have used technology to reach consumers much more efficiently. However maybe, as an industry, we didn’t focus enough on how effective the messaging could be by harnessing the power of personalisation.
Research from Adobe suggests that some marketers already believe they understand the role of personalisation in the buying process – according to their numbers, around 83% of retail marketers think they do a decent job in personalising experiences for consumers. Conversely, consumers clearly don’t agree, as only 29% of them feel that retailers effectively offer them personalised content or offers. Patently there is a disturbing disparity between client perception and customer reality.
Tech vs Real World
No one would argue that technology could ever really replace the prominence of real world experiences and the need to truly understand consumer need states and motivations. But, as the event organisers put it:
“Even though there are still some things in consumers’ lives that do not look digital at first glance and perhaps may never become digital, we are convinced that everything — including the relationship between consumers and brands — can be further improved through digitisation”.
So, if the solution lies in the enhancement of the online experience to make it more idiosyncratic and engaging for the consumer then that begs another question – how do marketers achieve that enhanced experience?
The answer is to make the experiences more powerful, consistent, sustainable and meaningful. The research is clear that Gen Y consumers prefer experiences to possessions and actually want brands to interact with them. In fact, according to Google, 16% of them actually want you to provide decent content so that they can share it with their friends.
Of course, there are already some excellent examples of clients who are already adopting a more customised approach to delivering personalised content to their consumers. For example, starting in Denmark, McDonald’s have begun the move away from pure demographics and started focusing on behaviour and needs in order to become much more relevant and targeted. They have adapted their marketing to highlight every single moment in a customer’s daily media usage and apply a ‘My McDonald’s’ strategy instead of a ‘Mass McDonald’s’ approach delivering dynamic creative messages at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform.
The point is that although there are some pockets of excellence around the globe, the reality is that many marketers haven’t yet embarked upon this kind of transformational journey towards enhanced personal online experiences. A panel moderated by Adweek will debate this very topic featuring speakers from IBM, Publicis and OMD entitled ‘Changing Marketing Agency Landscape: Building the most rewarding customer experiences‘. It may well prove to be a rallying cry for the industry and a catalyst for accelerated adoption of personalisation.
Personalise or die
To conclude, I decided to garner the opinion of a leading marketer from one of the world’s biggest advertisers. Bastien Schupp, vice president of global marketing communications at Groupe Renault, made it very clear that agencies and marketers who fail to react positively to this paradigm shift will be the ones who ultimately lose out.
“Communicating with individuals is undoubtedly the single biggest challenge ahead of us. The transformation of the creative and media buying processes will profoundly disrupt the way we do marketing. Getting big agency and client organisations to adapt to this change will define who stays in the game.”
The message is simple and somewhat stark. Personalise or die.