VP Product Management
I had the pleasure of attending the OMMA Behavioral Conference in Manhattan on Tuesday and was able to both present and listen to great discussions around the online advertising and targeting space.
Some conference takeaways:
1) The term “targeting” just doesn’t have a very friendly consumer connotation to it and probably isn’t the best term to use when discussing the practice. Relationship marketing or my personal choice – preference marketing – could be better suited to describe this as that is ultimately what marketers are trying to do – ascertain user preferences based on online behavior.
2) Lots of dialogue around privacy, on which I’ll expand below, but the ultimate question was: Do consumers really own the data? It depends, but I think the consumer needs to be involved in the decisions marketers make on their behalf. Someone made a great analogy about how in the offline world we do we not walk into a retail store wearing labels of the places we just came from that only the retailers can see. (I kept thinking of “kick me” signs from grade school). A counter argument to this was that direct marketers know our physical addresses and that is more sensitive info than websites we have visited.
3) Retargeting needs to address “creepiness” to remain effective. Timing, degree of personalization and frequency are important variables. It is about trust and annoyance for consumers.
4) Is TV going to see a resurgence in targeted marketing along with mobile? I wasn’t too convinced as I think people watch TV much differently now and don’t watch commercials outside of the SuperBowl, but one can’t ignore the size of this market and the underutilized technological capabilities.
5) I liked the concept of marketing being about the ‘journey’ as much as the end destination (conversion). Consumers need to feel good throughout the process – overagressive targeting can ruin the journey.
In my presentation I started the day with a discussion around the various privacy programs that are starting to co-exist (DAA, TPL and Do-Not-Track Headers) and tried to provide a basis of understanding for the systems and how they relate to each other. These are all different systems and have the potential of requiring separate complex deployments on behalf of the advertising ecosystem, but also have the potential to confuse consumers. My key message was to get involved proactively on all of these with measured efforts accordingly based on the solution maturity. Self-regulation must be the first step, but to succeed it needs to be done convincingly. There are other tools that are available to consumers that also need consideration like the IE9 TPL program, which TRUSTe has been working on as a solution alternative to the “block all” solutions that have existed for years in solidarity. We believe consumers want good, relevant ads, but only from companies that proactively and clearly show responsible data privacy practices. We are shaping our solutions to help the industry communicate the complex message to consumers through our TRUSTed Ads and TRUSTed Data Certification products.
The rest of the day, I noticed that privacy entered each discussion, which shows how integral this is to marketing, much like security was for e-commerce in the 90’s, which I saw first hand. A few quick observations:
1) It really appears we are at a peak of the dialogue this year, but will this work through the usual technology cycles over the next 2-3 years?
2) It is clear the cookie is not going to be the only way targeting can be implemented which is good and bad for the companies trying to do the right thing and those trying to avoid being part of any self-regulation.
3) It is clear advertisers will need to involve consumers directly in the process.
4) It is clear this can have good and bad reputational issues for companies that decide to do this or not.
I am hoping the privacy layer can be added to the fabric of advertising and that the industry can bake this in and turn this whole issue into a positive story. This is going to require some new technology, lots of consumer education and adoption by the majority of the industry. Again, TRUSTe can help with its set of products and servies and its brand, which consumers have come to recognize as a symbol for best privacy practices.
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