Would you swap your personal viewing activity in exchange for better targeted advertising? This ‘value given for value received’ equation is critical if the industry is going to succeed in migrating from mass to me. Now if you are reading this, then the smart money says that you are in the industry and get the trade off. But what about Ma and Pa living in Middle America? This has to be a really difficult concept to grasp.
An indication of the size of the challenge is given by the furore around Phorm (www.phorm.com). This is a technology which sits in your ISP, tracks all of your surfing activity, crunches that data in a big database and spits out targeted ads especially for you. A great idea but one that have given the internet purists a coronary and the regulators a job for life. Tested unwisely without user consent a number of months ago, BT are now asking for consent and claim that their customers understand and value the trade-off. I hope this is the case but I suspect that either they don’t truly understand the deal or the trial group are sophisticated users.
Imagine the conversation:
Provider: ‘if you let me track everything you do then I’ll send you ads that you will really want to see’
Customer: ‘I don’t like ads’
Provider: ‘But you don’t understand, you don’t like ads because they are not targeted. Now you will love them’
Customer: ‘so you guarantee me that I will love every ad?’
Provider: ‘well not exactly. The special algorithm which we have developed should do the job quite well after a while and once we have tuned it’
Customer: ‘doesn’t sound convincing. What if I look at adult content, will you send me loads of escort agency advertising?’
Provider: ‘Oh! At the moment it is probably our intention to potentially discard this information sometime in the future.’
You get my gist. A tricky conversation at the best of times.
However, there are easier deals to sell. How about exchanging consumption data for loyalty points on your club card? For a free movie once a month? For an iTunes download? For free samples? For reduced subscription rates? For cheaper petrol? These are easier to understand and could help the migration from trepidation to acceptance.
Let me be clear, I’m a real fan of the swap. However, companies offering the deal need to be trusted, open, transparent, consistent, honest and fair. How about the following message:
If companies really start to get this right then the most effective marketing of all – advocacy – kicks in and your family and friends start to tell you how good the solution is and how they trust the provider.
So the industry has a strong marketing challenge making personalisation work but one which must be faced and won. I suspect that the trusted brands (are there any left??) will find it easier to achieve and that less well known companies will need to partner and proxy this trust.
So what‘s your view? Is it a fair swap? All comments welcome.