The concierge and the future of mobile advertising



I’m currently working with a client (and a small army of students) on creating an app for their business. It’s been a great process and as we work through their models I realized that we’ve crossed over some conceptual threshold. From proactive to reactive.

Now . . . most times when I say something like that, there is a slight groan that comes from the audience. I understand. But hear me out. Recently I’ve seen an increase in data driven apps that help you through a process. (For those of you that use Google Now, you know where this is headed.) I recently downloaded an app called Mynd and to put it simply, it helps me manage my day. For example, it notifies me via push alert if I need to leave early for a meeting based on how bad traffic is between home and work. Just a small example.

As businesses begin to truly understand the metric ton of data that is available to them and how to use it, they will – and should – find ways to take care of their customers, as a concierge would. This is a pretty easy concept in regards to what Mynd and Google Now does. It gets much more interesting when you think about what something like Songza could do. (Songza plays music for you based on activity.) Here are some thoughts about how this app could be “concierged”.

  • Push alerts featuring concerts that are happening soon with bands that you’ve enjoyed. These alerts would be based on location (your close to the venue and it comes up) or while you’re listening to that band/genre.
  • A push alert asking if you’d like to listen to a specific type of music since you’re in that location (home, school, etc) AND you listened to that genre of music last time you were there.

Now, if you’re keeping score, I mentioned push alerts twice. Push alerts are a great way to keep your app in the forefront of peoples’ minds BUT they need to be useful. The best way to determine if they’re useful is actually pretty easy. Simply imagine that your customer has a friend that knows what exactly they’re into and just happens to know of every related activity that’s going on. (That’s you.) That friend (or concierge) would simply share that information with you.

This, in my humble opinion is the future of advertising. When it feels like you’re taking care of me, I’m into it. If you want me to try a new product, you can forget it. I don’t need a new product. That is what search is for.

There are several conclusions you can draw from all of this.

  • Apps are where it’s at in regards to building deep relationships with customers. Your best customers want an app but apps are not for every business model.
  • Native advertising is only a part of the picture. Ads shouldn’t be ads. They should behavioral/contextual. We all know this by now but data is how this gets done with true accuracy!
  • I may only get 2 “ads” a month, but the chances to me clicking on them is much higher.
  • Advertising for the mobile web should be search-based.
  • Ads for apps should be behavioral/contextual. As if your own personal concierge were helping you.


By Michael Myers