The past decade ushered in a brave new world for marketers – a world where generations embraced social media, freely and openly sharing with the world their likes, dislikes, and even where they ate dinner the night before.
The last year of the decade also saw the smartphone market boom, and consumption of mobile content finally started growing to the levels pundits have been predicting for years. With social as the driver, mobile became more than a tactical channel, but an opportunity. People took to the mobile Web to seek recommendations from complete strangers, and openly offered their own advice in thousands of online communities. Millions of mobile users openly shared their location with friends and merchants. And billions of pieces of user-generated content hit the Internet.
As the first month of the new year draws to a close, a perfect storm of user engagement and highly-adoptable technology stands to bring to fruition what marketers have been salivating for – a truly interactive engagement channel, where users not only expect targeted content, but directly benefit from it. 2011 promises to be the year that advanced behavioral targeting becomes a reality, driven in part by four trends and technologies that are becoming a growing part of everyday life.
Geo-targeting: You’ve probably noticed an ad for a local merchant during your travels across the Web, or maybe you’ve even checked in at your local coffee shop on Foursquare in hopes of scoring a free scone with your morning coffee. Geo-marketing is already here, but in 2011 as services like Google Latitude track your smartphone’s every move or Facebook begins to leverage your check-in information, advertisers will target you more and more based on where you are, where you’ve been, and where you spend your time. The day when you receive a text message with a 20 percent off coupon for the shoe store you pass on your way to work is not far off.
Photo tagging: Whether you’ve tagged yourself in a Facebook album labeled “Vacation in Panama,” or were tagged on Flickr in your ski gear with a vista of the Rockies at your back, there’s a goldmine of behavioral information awaiting marketers. For starters, you like to vacation. You have a disposable, discretionary income to spend. You travel internationally. You’re a skier and enjoy winter sports. Advertisements for dream vacations, airline credit cards, or even for a product seen in a photo you were tagged in are likely to soon follow as the technologies to analyze and track your photos reach maturation.
User reviews: User reviews and ratings of anything from restaurants to shops to products and even doctors have long been piling up across the likes of Yelp, Amazon, CNET, and plenty of other household names. Reviews and ratings leave little question about a user’s preferences, likes, and dislikes. This user-generated content won’t be used by just end consumers looking for a cozy diner for lunch, but marketers parsing your reviews and analyzing your ratings to extract invaluable data to build a profile, target you, and correlate you with those who share your tastes.
Screen targeting: Advertisements served up on the displays of mobile phones and tablets may soon be dramatically different from those that you’ll find on the same website viewed from your desktop computer’s screen. Marketers will target your screen, using the device displaying their advertisements to extract clues about where you might be in the buying cycle – or where you are in the mall. Mobile users are often out and potentially even minutes away from making a purchase. A timely advertisement stands to sway or even drive a user’s purchase decision.
As the adoption of mobile technologies and social apps reaches a critical mass, and the technologies to track and analyze their usage advance, a new age of behavioral targeting will be upon us. Advanced marketers will look to innovative behavioral opportunities to not only improve conversion and reach new consumers, but drive a higher overall ROI on their advertising dollar.