Advertising looks like a fun business. Ads must be creative(well, they should be), the business is constantly changing, and companies are always seeking new ways to be heard. There are some legendary industry innovations like infomercials. Imagine getting people to watch a full length commercial like is was a real TV program. Go figure. I never would have thought it possible. Infomercials seem to be taking over airline entertainment as well. Today, instead of a movie, we get to watch these short “entertainment” segments from the TV networks that essentially advertise their shows.

 The disruption happening here is that the number of places where an advertiser can effectively use a “push” model (e.g. forcing a captive audience to watch something) continue to diminish as more and more information gets delivered in a pull models. With on-demand systems, and even Tivo, we can simply bypass what we don’t want to see. To combat this issue advertisers continue to get more creative and deliver better content. Just look at Superbowl commercials – they are often better than the game!

The one place that has been a disappointment to me, however, has been the in development of pull marketing, often called permission marketing.

What a great opportunity for companies to distinguish themselves. I, as a consumer, actually give some companies permission to send me information. We all do this from time to time and it is kind of unavoidable with some things like airline and hotel loyalty programs. What is amazing to me is that, even with this opportunity, most companies still send out information that is generic, irrelevant, and just a waste of time. Why doesn’t a company figure out that, after 47 attempts, I may not want their credit card. I know, they do these things as “mass mailings” but imagine how much happier a customer I would be if they sent me something I wanted!

I believe companies are basically squandering their permission marketing opportunity by not using their information to their advantage. A typical company will have lots of information about me, especially if I interact with them regularly. For example, most airlines know where and how much I like to fly, even my seat preferences. They could easily get more of my business by offering me discounts on things that are appealing to me. Instead of offering something I want, I get credit card offers and discount offers to places that I don't want to go...

The trick is going to be for companies to take a more information-centric approach and literally develop personalized marketing campaigns. Imagine that instead of targeting markets with broad brush programs, they could deliver an integrated marketing campaign to every individual consumer. The campaign would stress the points known to be key factors for that individual and any special discounts or offers would be targeted to known areas of value.

We have the technology economically do this today and I believe that personalized marketing will become the new benchmark. Companies that can leverage their information will be the winners.



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