Mobile marketing – bonus or bane?

Tap Unlocking the Mobile Economy

I recently went to hear Anindya Ghose speak about his book Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy.

He spoke about the mobile marketing revolution of smart phones and how companies and consumers could benefit from personalized offers.

He saw this as a force for good with brands and consumers, and identified situations where he thought consumers would welcome the distraction. For example, in a tight crowd on public transit. As we know, no one really wants to speak or look people in the eye. Commuters are immersed in their smart phones and brands have a captive audience to offer discounts and goods honed to appeal to personal preferences.

Ghose outlined four additional consumer behavioural contradictions:

  1. We seek to be spontaneous but we actually value certainty. There’s no better example than how we commute. Most people’s daily movements are fairly predictable. We usually take the same routes. This data is very valuable to the telecoms who want to understand our movements so they can highlight specific offers we might be interested in.
  2. We find ads annoying but we have FOMO – fear of missing out – if there’s something we might want being presented.
  3. We crave the idea of choices but then get overwhelmed when we have too many. It leaves us feeling indecisive and probably walking away without making a decision.
  4. We claim to care about our privacy but are quite willing to give away our data so we can use WiFi at airports, shopping malls and coffee shops. Those places are also collecting a great deal of data on our habits.

However, Ghose says this is a good thing. This collection of data allows brands to become concierges or trusted curators of your tastes.

In this way the offers you’re presented with have meaning to you. He maintains that the ads you receive now are not personalized and have no relevance to you as the potential buyer. They are just random offers that everyone gets – so a waste of time for the brand and the consumer.

Brands are playing with location-based offers and discounts. If you’re approaching a coffee shop and are 50 feet away and I’m 10 feet away, you’ll get a larger discount than me.

One of Ghose’s studies showed that seeing a brand’s billboard as you cross the street and then getting a message on your phone that you’re eligible for a discount increased sales by 7 times. Apparently, neurologically, we take comfort in seeing the same message from two different channels.

He did say that this data we give away so easily could be used in a negative way. But he saw many more positive possibilities in places such as hospitals.

In a study he conducted, he discovered the nursing station was too far away from patients. The data showed it was a bottle neck and had the nurses and doctors taking up time walking to their patients. By decentralizing the patient information at various points on the floors, Ghose found the nurses had more time to engage with patients and patients didn’t have to wait as long for treatments.

The evening did give me pause. I do cavalierly give away my details when I want to access WiFi in public places. I think I might be a little more discerning in the future, even though Ghose suggests having my own personal concierge is a good thing.

How do you feel about brands using your personal data to better target their marketing or is your brand already experimenting with this kind of mobile marketing?

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