1. Ad-dendum by Yuko Saito: Don’t follow the device, follow the user

Ad-dendum by Yuko Saito: Don’t follow the device, follow the user

No marketer can provide a consistent experience unless it knows how consumers are interacting across devices and the paths they take from consideration to sale

Published: May 12, 2015 12:19 AM

HAVE you ever felt that tinge of satisfaction when a barista greets you by name and remembers your usual drink? He or she might even remind you of the bagel you ordered last week, toasted and with an extra block of cream cheese, offering to do the same. This conversation is based on all of your previous interactions with the store. In other words, there is a relationship, not just transactional moments.

Consumers today have grown used to such personalised experiences, and a personalised experience is now a requirement when they connect with brands, be it offline or online.

In public locations, such as your friendly neighbourhood café, you only have to take a look around to see users like yourself accessing the web on a constant basis. The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, the expansion of free Wi-Fi hotspots and reliable 3G means the average Indian user already spends 384 minutes each day on screen media, with mobile devices being most frequently used ahead of laptops/PCs and TVs.

More than ever before, pervasive technology has allowed consumers to interact with brands anywhere, at any time. And the best part—consumers are open to such interactions.

Unfortunately, the adoption of advertising technology has become a case of one step forward and a huge leap backward, in terms of user-centricity and personalisation. Impersonal ads have become the cause of a user’s every day annoyance and web visitors are starting to block ads that are irrelevant to their daily needs and lifestyles. With users preferring to be ‘left to their own devices,’ how then, can you avoid marketing malpractices and create meaningful consumer engagement?

The answer: do not just follow the devices, focus on the users.

A Forbes Insights study has shown that personalised ads driven by data have delivered demonstrable results in consumer engagement. Customers who feel like they are being treated as individuals tend to be more satisfied with their brand experience and are more inclined to remain loyal. Marketers need to wake up and smell the coffee. In fact, recreating that customised coffee experience with your mobile audience can be made simple and effective. It means doing the exact same thing, but at scale—every message you send must be user-centric and personalised, based on an understanding of the history an individual has with you.

There are three key capabilities that every user-centric marketing strategy should have. The first is the ability to store and understand all the interactions our customers have with us. The second is the ability to use new programmatic marketing tools to show personalised ads in real-time based on this behaviour. The third is to optimise all of this at an individual customer level to maximise the purchases and lifetime value of your customers.

Finally, what’s most important in today’s cross-device era is the continuation of storytelling across all screens and channels. As consumers do their pre-purchase research on whichever platform is handy, it becomes more difficult for you to identify them as they fluidly move between devices. With 56% of users in Asia demonstrating highly similar behaviour across their tablets and mobile phones, you can’t provide a consistent experience if you do not know how consumers are interacting across devices and the paths they take from consideration to sale.

This can lead to wasted ad spending, especially when inconsistent or inaccurate data is the culprit. When handled the wrong way, integrated campaigns either fail to target an individual across devices or they overexpose a user because one individual is being viewed as multiple users. Instead of allocating budget based on device type and figuring out performances across devices, marketers must identify the right users and deliver their preferred content to them, regardless of which screen or device they’re looking at.

By Yuko Saito

The author is managing  director of Criteo, Southeast Asia, a technology company that specialises in digital  performance advertising

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