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Personalization & the Connected Consumer

Ever since media companies, media marketers and advertisers started talking about the second screen, there has been a surge of research and attention given to figuring out how to best connect with second screen consumers.  According to David Gill, vice president of emerging media at Nielsen, 86 percent of tablet owners and 89 percent of smartphone owners use their devices while watching TV, and 40 percent of those people are on social networks.

But those are just statistics.

The challenge for brands and advertisers is how to take that information and use it in a way that nurtures a relationship with the user, instead of interrupting their experience with irrelevant information, said Beth Doyle, vice president of Innovations at VivaKi. Doyle served as part of a panel hosted by Nielsen during Chicago Ideas Week.

“That’s one difficulty mobile is taking on is that it doesn’t fit that model,” she said. “It’s such a personal device, that when you add that in, it’s a jarring experience that a lot of times impacts you negatively. I think advertisers need to figure out a new way to come up with a marketing strategy that is all about providing value for consumers on these devices.”

According to the panelists, that new line of thought has to do with a few factors, including what devices are being used and when, and how to personalize that experience. While tablets and phones can serve entertainment purposes—such as streaming music or movies—Nielsen studies show that much of the time, mobile devices are used for functionality.

“I think this is something the media world has an issue with, people who use their phones as a tool,” said Alex Campbell, co-founder of Vibes media. “You’re not sitting there watching a movie on your phone as you’re walking down the street in Chicago. You’re doing something with it.”

The taxi-finding app Uber is an example of a tool used purely for a functional purpose. People who want the convenience of ordering a cab directly can easily push one or two buttons on the app and a car will be on its way. So how can marketers take advantage of functional apps, while simultaneously providing something useful for consumers?

They have to re-focus traditional media marketing methods and think outside the box, said Beau Davis vice president of strategic accounts at Verve Mobile.

“What marketers have done in the past is based on the content that people were looking at,” he said. “But now, the actual location of where users are plays to a new dimension of advertising and understating the context of those individual consumers. So we have to figure out how to capitalize on those individual moments, and understand what those patterns mean.”

Davis said car companies can benefit by knowing more about their customers based on where they have been. “If you’re Toyota, and you can tell if a person has been to a Chevy lot or a Honda lot, you’re going to send them a very different message knowing they had physically gone to those lots, because they’re in the mood to buy. That context is very different than if they were still at home online doing research on cars,” he said.

Recent technological innovations have been a big part of bridging the gap between mobile consumers and advertisers. Since traditional media began broadcasting on radio and television, consumer data has been driven by designated market area and by demographics. But now, media interest can be measured also by what people are interested in via social networks, their physical location based on GPS coordinates from their smartphones or tablets, and by those same devices “listening” to the world around them.

“So much traditional media buying is ‘let’s buy the DMA of Chicago’—it all looks the same,” said Davis. “But we all know the city is pretty diverse in DMA and ethnic makeup. So with the mobile device you can get much more granular, and slice into that DMA by location. It all comes from our phones.”

Gill said the listening app Shazam is a good example of an app that has figured out how to synchronize the TV- watching experience. “The trend now is to figure out if people are tweeting during the show, or are they tweeting during the commercial?” he said. “And how does that affect typical brands and advertising on television and on the second screen itself?”

It’s no secret consumers are multitasking. Technology has created that need to be on more than one screen at a time, and with that knowledge is the opportunity to focus on what consumers are interested in, Doyle said. A project VivaKi is involved in is using ZBox to figure out enhancing that experience all in one place. Back-end digital fingerprinting technology can recognize what ads are running on TV and then can send something to compliment to the user’s mobile device simultaneously.

“It’s a fine line between complementing and competing behaviors,” she said. “But some are trying to enhance your TV experience by looking at show information or social content like Wikipedia, IMDb, and things like that. It’s been out for about a year now, and they’re seeing great success with making viewing actionable. It’s an opportunity as advertising to figure out how to add value rather than being another distraction.”

Campbell said he thinks people actually should try to block ads that are distracting. Brands that aren’t getting the message aren’t going to get the return on investment anyway, he said. “If brands are spending money on advertising to someone who is never going to buy your product, it’s like throwing money out the window. Why would you do that? I don’t want ads because they’re annoying and they don’t pertain to me. To me, marketing needs to accept this, and get better at delivering value to people.”

Perhaps most interesting to the panelists was where media buying and advertising goes from here. The consensus is that technology in this realm is still in its infancy.

“I think it’s early days—the smartphone that literally has one button is still only six years old ,” said Patrick Moorhead, vice president, mobile for Catalina Marketing. “We’ve had television for 50 years right? So six years on that spectrum is nothing. My assumption is, if you have seen it or imagined it and have thought ‘no way,’ that’s exactly what’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen sooner than you think. The whole Star Wars ‘there’s Obi-Wan Kenobi in holograph!’ Yes. That’s going to happen.”

About Gina Joseph

Gina Joseph is a features writer for Cision Blog, and is also the digital engagement manager for Cision’s marketing department. She’s a book nerd, Detroit sports enthusiast, lover of cats, lifelong Phil Collins fan, and budding snowboarder. Find her on Twitter @gmg912.

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