Five takeaways for personalisation from CES

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Creating personalised experiences for customers is a tricky business admitted panellists at the Adobe and Publicis Groupe session at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Senior executives on the panel from Publicis.Sapient, Mediavest Spark, Adobe, and Publicis Media said the data and technology is there to help deliver personalised consumer experiences – but it is too easy to get swayed by confusing industry jargon or what tactics Amazon or Walmart are using.

So how can brands tackle these challenges and create their own solid personalisation strategy? Here are five takeaways from the panel session and the video interviews that followed.

Don’t copy other brand personalisation tactics. Be different

Most brands look up to retail giants Amazon and Walmart as prime examples of how to do personalisation well. But brands shouldn’t compare themselves to each other, according to Stephan Beringer, global lead of data, tech and innovation at Publicis Media.

“If we all use the same data and the same tactics there is no differentiation,” he said. “We always have to have a real strategy and there is no machine that will do that for you.

“When you look at Walmart and Amazon, personalisation at these two companies is different. They [have to be because it] needs to feel different. I think that's really important.”

President of innovation and investment platforms at Mediavest Spark, Shelby Saville agreed that brands need to work on being different. But she added that from her experience, marketers tend to waste time in figuring out clever ways to capture a consumer’s attention only to turn around and offer “the same exact experience to someone else”.

Make consumers feel like they matter

Consumers know they can shop anywhere so getting their attention and keeping it has become quite challenging for brands. Brands need to start with the customer journey and create as “many options as possible for the customer” to make their choice matter, said Nigel Vaz, chief executive of Publicis.Sapient in APAC and EMEA.

He added: “When a kid is playing Lego, how do you create choice for that child at every single point which allows them to feel like they can own a part of the experience that you've created?”

But there needs to be a balance, warns director of product marketing for Adobe Primetime, Campbell Foster: “Don't bombard the consumer with too much choice like 95 options to choose from. Give them three car colours not 95.”

Go back to basics – by getting inside the consumer’s mind

Consumer psychology was “big in advertising in the 1950s” but now has been forgotten, said Foster on the panel and later in his video interview with The Drum.

“When you think about big data and personalisation, it tends to focus only on testing and the intelligent application of data. Not really on consumer psychology. Marketers really need to go back to basics to really understand personalised consumer experiences.”

Spotify is using technology to understand the consumer’s mindset really well and in turn delivering personalised experiences, according to Saville and Vaz. Saville gives the example of Spotify being able to tell a customer’s “music listening patterns” right through to the “time-of-day” the music is being listened to.

Saville added: “I think the idea of personalisation not just being about what you know about me, but also knowing about what mindset you think I might be in, is really fascinating.” Vaz also thinks Spotify is leveraging data in a clever way, something brands can learn from: “It's about recognising something about you and then evolving a product to support you better.”

Don’t focus on confusing industry jargon. Focus on objectives

Marketers know they should be leveraging technology better, but how can they when they don’t know what ‘programmatic’ is?

“It’s slightly daunting and can be confusing,” admitted Beringer when asked how marketers can tackle the complicated industry jargon that exists in the industry. “Probably the best trick is to get rid of all big words like big data and DMPs and instead think about the function you need to build to actually deliver something.”

Vaz added: “One of the ways to filter out the confusing jargon is to focus on what you are trying to accomplish. Map those to a customer journey, then think about the role of technology and platforms to support that.”

Become digitally-savvy – or risk falling behind

Consumers are now more digitally-savvy than ever but can the same be said for brands? A study by Accenture and Forrester last year revealed that despite customers expecting easy and personalised experiences, most companies are “slipping increasingly further behind” in keeping up with consumer expectations.

Vaz agrees with this notion, saying “customers are moving way faster” than the technology today and “it’s up to businesses to respond to their movements”. On the panel, he recommended that brands recognise the fact that the consumer journey is now “driving changes in the way silos operate” and brands should organise their internal processes in response to the consumer movement.

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