How data and AI are making business advertising more personal
Insight from analytics is being weaved into the creative process to produce hyper-personalised advertisements to which audiences can relate.
Whether we’re reading tailored social media news feeds or scrolling through lists of movies that have been chosen especially for us, the consumer is existing in an increasingly personalised world.
Technology is putting the individual at the centre of everything, which means that the approach of blanketing whole sections of society with the same messages is no longer good enough.
In a recent study by PwC’s Digital Services, 94pc of top execs felt that delivering personalisation was critical to reaching and retaining customers.
Also known as one-to-one marketing, personalisation is now being surpassed by “hyper-personalisation”, where tailoring a message, service or price to one specific person is done right down to the most granular level using technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and real-time analytics.
Automated ad buying
Marketing tech company, Cablato, uses programmatic advertising (where a machine buys digital ads rather than a human) and real-time data to create ad campaigns designed for a specific individual. Programmatic machines make decisions about what will work best, for whom, and when, all in just five milliseconds.
Joey Gartell, Cablato's strategy director, says that its tech has seen ad effectiveness increase by a factor of 10: “Using data and machine learning to drive content personalisation is transforming marketing performance.”
The company’s clients can access and use a number of available data sets, including price, location, weather and behavioural data, to recommend their content and products to consumers. This helps them make more informed choices and, importantly, increases sales and marketing efficiency, adds Mr Gartell.
Services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime harness a recommendation engine to personalise our viewing based on our previous watching habits. Clive Malcher, senior vice president at video products and services company, Piksel, says that soon, the advertising that we see alongside films and TV programming will be just as bespoke.
“AI means that we're more informed than ever about what’s out there for us. Companies are connecting with their audiences on a much deeper level, and it’s natural that this would enter people’s living rooms,” says Mr Malcher.
Targeted ad breaks, TV guides, and even personalised product placement are all on the horizon, he adds. There are a range of systems that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can employ to improve how they tailor their services.
Garden furniture specialist, Alexander Francis, uses a scalable cloud-based system from retail management platform, Bright Pearl, alongside Mailchimp, which provides an integrated email marketing service. It enables them to have a better understanding of their customer database, including their behaviours and buying habits.
It means that the company can personalise its messages. “We send emails about our newest furniture collection only to customers who have demonstrated a prior interest in those types of items – and at that particular price point,” says managing director, Lee Adams.
“This makes our interactions more relevant and engaging.”
By collecting data about its consumers, a company can use it to make decisions about what they might best respond to next. But this collection of data comes with concern and responsibility; according to a MediaCom study, from 2015 to 2017, people aged eight to 19 have become increasingly concerned about the amount of information that advertisers hold on them.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also places a number of restrictions on how data is used – and empowers people to take control of their data.
“With access to the right data, the sky’s the limit in terms of how companies can personalise their interactions with customers,” says Julian Saunders, chief executive and founder of data management and GDPR compliance company, PORT.
“However, with this opportunity comes a huge risk for businesses – feelings of intrusion, unease and loss of trust.”
Mr Saunders recommends that companies ensure that they have good data management. This means that businesses need technology in place that allows data to be error-free, in a readable format, and complete, centralised and easy to access. They should have processes in place to capture, modify and add data, and trained staff to understand data governance and legal requirements.
“This is fundamental to ensure that hyper-personalisation is a positive experience for customers,” he adds.