Musings from Mike Atkinson on Internet strategy, usability, and more...

Marketing in the new age

Hidden inside this CNN Money article on Microsoft’s possible acquisition of Facebook is an exceptional summary of where online marketing/advertising is going:

Facebook is the closest thing the world has to a next-generation Internet, one structured not around Web sites but around people. In the Facebook topology, every data source or service is defined by who else is using it.

The company has, in a crude way, solved the critical problem of Internet identity. Each member’s profile is tantamount to their personal Web site, which defines who you are, who you know, what you are interested in, and what you are doing now.

This matters in business terms because the Internet is rapidly moving toward a world in which advertisers are able to target their messages to those most likely to be responsive.

While this is often painted as an invasion of privacy, in fact it is a service. If these future systems work the way the ad industry expects them to, the ads we see will quite often be ads that convey information we want. If software algorithms can help marketers identify what sorts of goods and services we are most likely to buy, it is a benefit, not an intrusion.

The direct marketing world has known this for years – targeted marketing gets better results. Period. Know your customer better and you will be rewarded.

The Internet is allowing us to take this a step further – leveraging the data people supply about themselves and only showing them information that they will most likely be interested in.

How can you get to know your customers/constituents better to better meet their needs?

UPDATE: Just saw this CNET article on the direction of mobile personalized marketing – definitely ties into this theme.

All this made me think of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report – remember the eye scans that would generate personalized ads as you walked around the city? One day, I think, we’ll gasp at how prophetic that was and laugh at how primitive it was delivered…


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