How to win with personalisation: add value with data instead of ‘annoying’ consumers

Personalisation panel at The Drum Arms

Getting personalisation right is the holy grail for brands. But brands need to stop ‘spamming’ consumers with irrelevant messaging and target them contextually within their environment if they want to add value to their customers, agreed panellists at The Drum’s personalisation event, in association with lifecycle engagement platform, Appboy.

Speaking at The Drum Arms pub in London last week, the panel, which consisted of speakers from News UK, mobile transformation company Somo, Mediacom Worldwide, Appboy, and events startup Revl, argued that spamming disguised as personalisaiton will only hurt a brand's reputation.

“My expectation for what I see on billboards are not super high but when my phone vibrates and I see a message, it better be delivering value to me,” said Bill Magnuson, CEO & co-founder at Appboy. “Or else it’s actively destroying the relationship that I have with the brand. The emphasis should be on creating a long-term relationship where there is mutual value through the conversation.”

Part of the problem is that brands tend to confuse customisation and personalisation, added Ross Sleight, chief strategy officer at Somo. Customisation is asking what the user wants. Personalisation is the implicit inference from the data that we collect about people. The confusion occurs when consumers do not dictate what they want, leaving brands to rely on guesswork.

“Most brands are rightfully trying to add value [through personalisation] but right now are being let down by the data that they have and finding out why the consumer would want to respond to that,” he said. For Sleight, we have only "scratched the surface" on location-based targeting, as most of the personalsation that brands try to provide is "completely out of context".

Nicole Amodeo, head of mobile at Mediacom Worldwide, agreed with Sleight, adding that she was most impressed by a Santander bike ad that got personalisation spot on.

She explained: “When I was waiting for a bus, it showed me a map with me on it, and the bike docks directly around me. It then gave me the option to get a bike instead of a bus. I think that’s valuable. No one is asking for that but it’s there if you want it.”

Music streaming device Spotify was applauded by many of the panellists because of its ability to use data to personalise playlists. Spotify has invested heavily in getting the right technology to improve its playlists for its listeners.

Ben Walmsley, director of commercial digital at News UK admires Spotify’s ability to tune in to its customer’s preferences, saying it “provides a really good balance between customisation and personalisation”. But he said social media is one example of not getting personalisaiton right.

“Social media has gone in completely the wrong direction in terms of what personalisation has become, particularly around some of the political views that is not promoting well-informed debate,” he argued.

“As a publisher, people come to The Times because they want a well-informed view and different types of content. We have to be really careful and think about it as recommendation rather than personalisation based on data that is telling people what we think they should know,” he added.

Revl, one of Appboy's clients, has found success through location-based targeting, as co-founder and marketing director, Jennifer Roebuck, pointed out.

“We find that if we target the person at the right time, we get an 80 or 90% response rate but that’s because the person is there either exploring a museum or live music festival. So, we make sure the messaging is relevant,” she said. “It does show that if it’s relevant, it’s right.”

The Drum Arms pub, based next to Piccadilly Circus, hosted several discussions and debates throughout Advertising Week Europe.

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