Challenges in a hyper-connected world; opportunities for adaptive marketing

With more than 2.4 billion people connected to the internet, the boundary between virtual and real is blurring. Norm Johnston, Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare asks marketers to apply adaptive marketing in this increasingly connected world

Challenges in a hyper-connected world; opportunities for adaptive marketing

More than 2.4 billion people are connected to the internet today; a number which is only going to increase in the coming years, while the boundary between virtual and real blurring every day. Speaking at a knowledge seminar on the third day of Goafest 2014, Norm Johnston, Chief Digital Officer of Mindshare asked marketers to start thinking of the opportunities and challenges that lie in this hyper-connected world.

Johnston described the current technology scenario as a “hyper-connected” world. Not only are people becoming increasingly connected to the internet, objects are also becoming ‘smarter’ and more connected. Products and companies like i-Dration, Geobeats, Kimberly-Clarke, etc. are using technology to make everyday devices more efficient by leveraging the power of connectivity and the internet. These new age, connected devices represent a new marketing opportunities for advertisers, something, Johnston referred to as ‘adaptive marketing’.

“On average, we pass about 3,254 pieces of personal info into databases every week. It is estimated that about 35 zetabytes of data will be uploaded by users over the next ten years,” said Johnston, highlighting the magnitude of task ahead for marketers. He also cautioned that with these huge amounts of data, there is the need for added responsibility in how marketers treat the data. An example that he gave is perhaps something that many Indian brands are already aware of, namely, how quickly things get socialized these days. “If something inaccurate goes out about your brand, a lot of people will still believe it because of the speed of socialization. It is actually scary,” he said.

Johnston also noted that along with the speed of data, the information that comes along with it, including meta-data, geo-location, synchronicity, etc. is also important. According to him, fast moving data, especially through mobile, can be used in a lot of clever ways.

So, how does one define adaptive marketing? According to Johnston, adaptive marketing stands for using all this social data and applying it rapidly in real-life situations in different areas like product development, pricing, etc. He gave the example of Coca-Cola Freestyle, a data-driven vending machine introduced by Coca Cola that allowed customers to mix and create their own mocktails using more than 200 Coca-Cola products. The machine tracked which were the most popular flavours being selected by customers, which gave an insight into consumer preferences and allowed Coca-Cola to introduce new flavours and products based on these insights, for example, Coca-Cola introduced a new variant of Mountain Dew based on this data.

Another example of adaptive marketing given by Johnston was of Swedish company Orbitz which tracked which OS mobile users were accessing their website from and then gave hotel suggestions based on it. For example, an android user being suggested a cheaper hotel, while an iOS user getting suggested a more expensive hotel. The reasoning is that iOS users were more likely to spend more money on luxury stay. “You will earn more earned media if you invest in smarter paid media, along with good owned media,” he explained.

Johnston ended his talk by comparing the old way of advertising to the sport of archery; “shoot a message and hope it reaches the target audience”. Advertising today, he said, was more like a game of table tennis, fast and going both ways.

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