I read yet another article in the Wall Street Journal this past week about cable customers up in arms about their online behavior being tracked even though they would remain technically anonymous. Not sure what the big deal is if they can remain truly anonymous. They would essentially see your online shadow, would allow you to turn it on or off and would enable on-demand personalized marketing.
I wish someone would start a company that promised whenever I was online (entertainment, information, communications across standard Internet and mobile Internet), I would only see ads that were relevant to me and where I was. (Browsers are positioned the best for this model.) Of course this is where we are heading. Those people that have not figured out how to turn off advertising in Firefox or have not purchased a DVR yet, still view ads, as intrusive.
This is a paradigm/perception that advertisers/marketers need to help resolve and it won’t be easy. For years we have been annoyed by or at the very least ignored television ads, radio ads and online advertising. The “throw it out there and see what sticks” is dead and the vine is dying as well. I can’t remember what advertising conference it was, but someone at Google was asked (in a room full of advertisers) what he thought was going happen to all them as we move towards a CPA ad model. The persons reply was that there would be a lot less us in the room.
In my opinion, those businesses (advertisers/marketers) that bridge the gap early and partner with the customers to enable offers to be delivered to them, will be ahead of the game. Permissions based marketing is nothing new and yet I’m hoping for more of a collaborative relationship. Businesses should explain how advertising works, works for them and how the success of those campaigns impacts the employees that work for that company. Put faces on that company. This type of empathy and transparency could help build deeper relationships with customers. If this is in place (and the customer cares) then the business will need to educate the customer and then let them make the decision. Good partners always collaborate and teach each other what they know and impart what is important to them. What the customer gets from this relationship should be the promise that the ad will be as taylored as possible to their tastes. Also, if a customer receives an ad that is not a “match” then they should tell the business to help insure an increase in quality. Again, the idea is to create a partnership that helps make a advertising a better relationship.