What will have a greater and lasting impact?

Will watching a TV advert have a more meaningful impact than someone watching a video on Facebook or seeing a billboard at Piccadilly Circus? Are all impacts equal? The day job that sometimes strays into the night time (9-5 what’s that?) is within the marketing and advertising industry and I’m often asked by clients what will help me achieve the most meaningful interactions with consumers – in other words what will lead to more people buying my products. It’s been almost 100 years since John Wanamaker famously coined the phrase:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

…and now with a far greater number of variables in this digital age we live in, many are still no closer to truly understanding what works or what will contribute to achieving the greatest success. Of course there will be stark contrast depending on the different products and brands being advertised – and no interaction remains isolated (if you’re reading this on your phone, I imagine the TV is on in the background). It’s amazing how effective we’ve become at multi-tasking – well selective multi-tasking anyway. There isn’t a one size fits all approach.

This concept of identifying more meaningful interactions in a cluttered advertising ecosystem got me thinking about the importance of building and maintaining meaningful relationships with friends and family. Just as advertising impacts differ, what will help me achieve more meaningful interactions with those I care about. I’ve recently been caught out on a few occasions trying to have a conversation with my wife, whilst thumb surfing on the iPhone. Needless to say I haven’t yet mastered this art of multi-tasking and nor should I ever want to! We need to ensure that we lay aside the distractions and focus on being in the moment, to build long lasting memories and relationships with those we love. No one ever started a story with “Remember that time we were on our phones…….” Ditch the phone, have daily chats with your other half, read your child a bedtime story from an actual book, go for a walk and admire your surroundings – make lasting memories that will have a greater influence!

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” Stephen R. Covey


The Privacy vs. Personalisation Conflict

There will be those who firmly sit in either camp, but increasingly perhaps there are those like myself who sit with one foot firmly poised either side of the fence.  Whilst I respect the need for privacy, I also see the opportunity to harness data to serve a personalised user experience; at the right time, in the right place and importantly with the right message.


The press continue to address the subject, such as the recent Guardian article – Shops can track you via your smartphone, privacy watchdog warns.  The article highlights that unbeknown to most of us, data is being harvested from your mobile phone – the web pages your view, the apps you use, the geolocation of where you’ve been and regularly visit – big brother is indeed watching.  The irony here is whilst the journalist is scaremongering you about the data being gathered from your smart phone, at the same time that you are reading this article, the Guardian has allowed data companies to be capturing your data to then sell on to advertisers.  Just take a look – whilst some of these are for internal data capture (Google tools, etc), there are 26 pixels and tags in total on the site capturing who you are, and building a profile of your online behaviour, interests and potential purchase intentions.  Data is courtesy of a clever little chrome plugin Ghostery.


Outrageous I hear you think, I never agreed to this invasion of smartphone privacy – well folks you actually did.  Unbeknown to most of us, we all agreed for our personal data to be mined, whenever we hit that agree button rather than trawling through the 30 pages of terms and conditions at the last software update.  In fact, why not check for yourself (apologies to Android users) but go into the Privacy menu on your iPhone, scroll to the bottom and click on advertising, and the section ‘About Advertising & Privacy’ and you’ll soon realise you’re opted in to giving away your deepest and darkest secrets!


Laying aside the privacy issue for a moment, but in a world where advertising is intrusive and unavoidable – what if it could be personally tailored to you?  Excuse the simpleness of the example, but you’ve decided like a lot of us that you really should start to exercise regularly and have been reading up on how to get into running.  You’ve watched videos on YouTube, read blogs, articles on Runners World and have recently been into local sports stores.  You are now served messages about buying running gear, with introductory offers and rather than the same messages over and over again, there is some sequential differences based on your interactions and further research.

In theory this sounds great, but I will admit that as extensive as data is it often doesn’t know when to stop.  You’ve now bought all your running gear, you’ve been out on those first few painful runs and yet you are still being bombarded with running gear offers and messaging.  There are some advertisers who really need a 101 in frequency capping; leaving a bitter taste in people’s mouths and negating the efforts of those trying to do this well.  I’ll admit it’s far from perfect yet, and the use of multiple devices creates further challenges to be overcome.

The conflict rages on, and with the rise of connected devices and ‘internet of things’ for those of us concerned about protecting our data, the task will only get tougher.  On the flip side, more data, harnessed and organised correctly can only help to fuel the personalisation quest.  If only my budget would stretch to one of those new shiny fridges that orders food for me.