The Evolution of Marketing Technology – Part 5: Personalization Period
This is the 5th and final part in our ongoing series, The Evolution of Marketing Technology. You can find the first 4 parts here:
Because of its constant fluidity, the Internet is a communication medium that can react instantaneously. Before the ubiquity of personal computers, Internet, and smartphones, human knowledge was only as fast as the quickest train, plane, and automobile. Now, an endless amount of information is immediately accessible and updated, from practically anywhere, and by anyone.
The dynamic nature of this new medium allows companies to quickly measure, react, and influence individual consumers. Advertising was no longer purchased using assumptions about where a consumer was in the past, but where they were in the moment. A few years after launching their search engine, Google launched Adwords in 2000, a pay-per-click advertising service. Adwords could display relevant ads using immediate consumer intent and charge you only if an action was taken. Our buddy Sven could now find an exact audience for his axes and deliver perfectly timed marketing communication from anywhere in the world.
Google Adwords (highlighted in red) show up on the page according to your search terms.
Marketers could now directly talk to a desired customer, and, for the first time, the customer could talk back. Social media equalized the playing field. Being a mass media influencer was previously reserved for only the largest and most successful companies and celebrities. However, the emergence of popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in the mid-2000s allowed anyone to captivate a global audience of millions. Brands that took decades and millions of dollars to develop could be tarnished by a few social media miscues. At the same time, millions of dollars in sales and equity could be generated using only 140 characters or a vlogger’s webcam.
Another development was that storefronts were not longer static. As commerce has shifted to the Internet, products could be displayed specifically to entice an individual to make a purchase. Sven could now display that double-sided battle-axe with the pink handle Olga had been eyeing, and entice her with the perfect offer. Companies shifted their strategies from trying to influence large swaths of consumers, to developing personal relationships with individuals. Finding an audience was no longer a problem; connecting with them was now the challenge.
The communication progress achieved in the last two decades can be attributed to the foundation built upon the invention of language, writing, mass media, and computers. As with each of those historically significant periods, marketing has quickly adopted advances in communication to support and grow global commerce. Yet, none of those advancements have been laid to rest. Word of mouth is just as important in the current age as it was in the ancient history. Moreover, some would argue that it’s only now reached the peak of importance because of the power of social media.
When you think of these technological advances, you have to also have to think how much consumers have also evolved. They’re privy to your messages, having been exposed to thousands of ads and marketing messages over the years. They also have the power of choice with even more eCommerce brands readily available. Another thing is that consumers now expect a personalized experience that caters to them. They expect you in a sense to know what they want, or at least suggest and predict what they would want (think Amazon product recommendations.) When we reflect on successful companies of the past and future, one thing has always stayed true: successful brands listen and adapt to the ever changing wants and needs of customers.
The future and beyond
We can’t look into the future, but based on the past we can make logical assumptions. It looks like technology will always impact marketing, but how it’s tied into the customer experience will make all the difference. For example, VR was the hot thing that many thought was going to make waves. That was over five years ago and now VR is just used in gaming and simulations. We still have not quite tied it into commerce yet, but companies have developed mirrors that let you “see” an outfit on you. Incremental things like this make us excited for what the future holds for commerce as both technology and consumers evolve.
Related: The present and future of retail could go either way – Between the shopping aisles: retail apocalypse or evolution?
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