Personalization: The Dark Art to Engaging Crowds

 Scott Thomson, Senior Manager Industry Strategy APAC, Adobe Systems

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There’s a dark art to talking to or performing in front of crowds. Bands do it. Magicians do it. Politicians and inspirational speakers do it. They personalize their performances and their messages.

A politician enters a crowded auditorium and as she walks down the aisle she stops to warmly shake hands with a few people on the aisle and shares a few friendly words with each.

The lead singer in a band bounds onto the stage of a packed arena, punching the air with energy. He pauses at the stage edge as if he’s caught someone’s eye in the crowd. He smiles broadly, points and waves at what appears to be a fan he’s spotted. He then calls out to the whole city all the time maintaining a pointed finger to his “friend” in the crowd.

Once you stop treating the crowd as a crowd and start focusing on individuals, the crowd notices! The more you do it, the more the crowd engages.

One by one, the experience and expectation in the crowd becomes, that this isn’t just a one to many thing. It’s about the performer and me, a unique, unrepeatable, magic moment shared. Even people who don’t get individually called out still start to believe this.

As the market matures it moves its practices from broad reach & frequency, multi-channel communications and starts focusing strategically on customer journeys and customer centric communications, we begin to see the imperative of getting into the crowd, waving and smiling and connecting with our customers where they are.

Quite simply, we are moving from an enterprise centric marketing approach to a customer centric marketing approach.

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Two potential challenges for the near term will be if we see the bulk uptake of addressable TV and the predicted mass uptake of wearables. Not long to go, we were saying, “Next year will be the year of mobile”. We kept saying that year in, year out – 2007, 2008, 2009… then we got to 2010 and uptake passed critical mass and people were scrambling for mobile resources and desperately trying to get apps to market.

Think about the “year of connected devices”, including TV and wearables. When do you think that will be? – 2015, 2016, 2017? Especially with TV, what happens when the bulk of TV marketing and content suddenly has access to address their audiences individually?

Are marketing and content teams laying down the foundations and skilling up their teams to have personally addressable conversations? Are they working towards addressable conversations with customers across TV, tablets, mobiles, wearables and the potentially dizzying array of addressable Internet of Things we are promised? Are we being wise or will we be left scrabbling?

There are now and will be in the near future more ways than ever before to use all this to listen, predict, assemble and deliver all kinds of content in near real time to our customers. We could also match the context and journey of the customer to meet them where they are most engaged and most receptive to our messages. How are you coping now and how are you preparing for the future?

Join my colleague, Kevin Lindsay, and me at the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium 2014 in Sydney and Singapore where Kevin will conduct a deep dive into personalization and I will cover Data Management Platforms – Your Audience Matters.

Also, find my presentation on personalization (with the Australian spelling) as well as data driven advertising on my slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/sufood

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