So I recently read this article on Pulse which was a discursive piece on where we stand in the world of advertising to the next generation of media consumers. Although I found it interesting it was also a little naive on its reach as it imagined a usage for the data that we give up willingly that will achieve greater focus than I think is possible from the passive examples shown.
It is fairly obvious that we live in a data age and that there is a zeitgeist over the concept of 'Big Data' but to then extrapolate that simply having a data model and targeting specific data display will influence behaviour and prove the most valuable resource is over-simplifying.
The data collected on what consumers do and how they do it isn't the full value one gets from data collected via social media. There is another metric or data dimension that we can evaluate, measure and configure - it is the confirmation of behaviour based on our known relationships.
Social media allows people to formulate an opinion on something, or to describe a behaviour, fulfil commitments and express an allegiance. When we also consider that at the same time we get a confirmation of those things when they communicate with their contacts, especially if their contacts do not have a beginning knowledge of what was performed, we have the confirmation of a bias. A person's underlying biases are hard to decipher simply from their observation choices or purchases. When we see others agree positively to their actions we know this further heightens their sense of bias, so we can deduce that they will continue to search for, and often interact only with, things that confirm that bias.
The real strength is in how we use that understanding.
In the original article we are shown that we can extrapolate by linking to second screen users (dual screening), passively drawing data and rewarding them with a better visual experience (like the imagined advert free Superbowl), but this doesn't exploit the full matrix of information we can obtain. How about we link all the data we have and target the underlying nature of the person, instead of trying to sell them a product we can provide them with a better experience they were already likely to do. We are not now selling them the product, we are heightening the importance of a product to their experience.
Let me try to give you an example.
Jeff is watching the commercials and the TV knows his eyes are looking at the advert - this data is reported back to our collection system. We search our database of information to find if he has discussed beer in the past year; with whom he discussed it and their opinions; who else in his network likes beer; who has he been drinking with and the frequency of all of those people and that activity. We can then target the place where Jeff drinks to put the drink he is seeing an advert for on a low offer if Jeff goes to the bar to buy that drink with three of his friends. We also message Jeff with the offer and his friends with the offer and maybe further visually customise the advert for Jeff's viewing. We might even manipulate the issue and record if Jeff's more intimate relationships, he is much more likely to spend if there is secondary emotional gain.
By using Jeff's own biases, where he drinks, who he drinks with and who he discusses drinks with we can link product, purveyor and purchases - and we can tie this via the entertainment they like.
We can even attempt to sway Jeff to buy a different drink. Say we want to have him try a competitor beer, we could check his preferences and maybe we would discover he occasionally likes to think of himself as an extreme enthusiast. Now our advert might say, buy one of your regular drinks and get a 'competitor beer' for half price with the message 'we dare you to try'. Our aim here is to get him to make the purchase, we cannot get him to change his mind or his likes only Jeff can do that, but we can target his behaviour especially if we have information on that behaviour.
My feeling is that the use of technology with advertising is about to take a leap into a whole new realm.
For those of us studying at the edges of technology with an insight into advertising and marketing research we can see the possibilities, whether that is to the best benefit to the end consumer is a matter for a different debate.