Context aware marketing – music to our ears?

Research house Berg Insight predicts that mobile advertising will grow from almost €7 billion a couple of years ago to €28 billion in 2018. We believe that this is completely feasible – as long as we do not get a critical balance wrong. That balance is centred around trust and engagement. Bombard a customer with ‘special offers’ and he will switch off. Literally. Get the context wrong – we liked the example of getting a special offer of a free cooling drink from a bar, but you are on a train that does not stop at a nearby station – and you irritate the customer.

There are some examples that make perfect sense, however. Music is one.

O2P-ad-for-BillingviewsMore and more examples are emerging of operators bundling limited time offers as they roll out 4G. Vodafone is including Spotify as part of the deal when you take up their 4G offer, in the Netherlands they are ‘selling’ Deezer. This is a good, early example of operators collaborating with OTT players to increase the attractiveness of their own offers, while in turn offering OTT players very targeted access to their customer base.

The ‘flip side’ is that by using analytics tools, operators know which customers are listening to music, and, as the early offer runs its course, can offer better and more compelling music offers to those same people. Although simplistic, it makes perfect sense – music lovers love music, so making them an offer is not intrusive but to be welcomed.

To find more sophisticated examples, one of the best places to look is in the retail world.

Most supermarkets have loyalty cards. Most customers collect points. Most supermarkets follow up with coupons or offers based on your buying patterns. To begin with these probably seem logical. ‘If the customer bought this type of wine (as a hypothetical example you understand), then let’s offer him a deal on 12 bottles and offer to deliver it, free.’ This, too, is not intrusive and makes sense.

Then you might begin to scratch your head. You have been shopping at the same supermarket for a while, have got used to receiving ‘logical’ offers – discounts on larger purchases of things you already buy or discounts on something that you bought for the first time last week, then something strange happens. You have never in your life bought dog food from the supermarket. You generally buy it in large bags from the pet food shop along the street, because you can get your car close and heave the large bag into the car without struggling with dog food, trolleys, wayward trolley wheels, car parks etc. 

What has happened, of course, is that you have just been profiled. Some algorithm has worked out that your buying habits, plus your age, plus the fact that both you and your partner use the loyalty card, your address and who knows what else means that the likelihood is that you own a dog or two. So they see whether you will bite (in a good way).

This progressive approach to marketing via the mobile channel, is, we believe critical to not switching customers off. Follow this logical, progressive, engaging path and you will take your customers with you. Bombard them with offers based on insufficient information and a lack of intuition and you will pay the price – literally. 

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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