single user identifier

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There’s a nice piece in the NYT today by Farhad Manjoo about the evolution of luxury apps to apps that end up being affordable over time once scale is created. One example cited is Munchery, who with enough orders and resources, hopes to deliver healthier food to consumers close to the cost of junk food. Ish. The ability for scale to reduce cost is a promise of the interwebs.

In this world, we resource and massify what is produced, yet individualize what is delivered. At scale. Logistics, as Uber likes to say, is a nice living.

Mass communications have for decades been produced and sold in bulk. Direct marketing tried to individualize, but really only segmented. The creators of advertising have never really tried to individualize marketing communications, yet today data collection and analysis and digital content are bringing us many steps closer. The individualized creative product is still pretty awful and way too expensive. Even at retail, belly to belly selling is static; a couple of selling points used for every customer.

We have a long way to go. With new tools like NFC (check out the promise of Invisible Media) and single user identifier not too far away, personalized selling will improve greatly. Then, so will creative. Ad agencies will have to become more fluid.

As this happens selling will atomize – and brand strategy become more important. An organizing principle for a brand built upon what a product does well and what a customer wants most, will be the only staple.

Peace. 

 

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Here’s a marketing infographic without the graphic. And without serious paragraphing. The early 1990s: computers and clunky email clients. The late 90s: laptops, infant web, networked software, and bad banner ads. The early 00s: search, ecommerce catalogs, bad leaderboard ads. Mid 00s: web communes, multimedia handhelds, entrepreneurship. Late 00s: content, thin things from Apple, cheesing the SEO system, Google Adwords. Early teens: apps, streaming, millennials, pay walls for heretofore free stuff. 2014: applications that solve real problems, meaningful use of the web, 3 mobile devices in every house. 2015 and beyond: ANALYTICS.

We are all going to be very anal about analytics; be they used to map the DNA gene sequence of cancer or Alzheimer’s, single user identifier of consumer digital behavior, or the most effective protocols and treatments for wellness and healthcare. Why? Because we can.

The data nerds are coming. It’s what’s next. Marketers and brand planners can smell it.

Peace. 

 

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I posted yesterday about Verizon’s purchase of AOL and how it begged the need for a “single user identifier” to maximize ad revenue across devices. A mobile phone number is an individual identifier, but it doesn’t integrate cleanly with that individual’s IP address or cable TV account number. I wrote a futures piece for Microsoft a few years ago in which I talked about the “Logged and Tagged Society.” Well, consumers are certainly tagged, but their log-ins are all screwed up. An analog for this is electronic medical records in the healthcare world. Also all screwed up. In the future each person will have a single user identifier and when that comes about, the ad platform people will have more context for smart sales than ever before.

An article in the NYT today quoted Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth (note to self, follow him on Twitter) saying “Are ads even relevant now? Do they even make sense on mobile? If all information is indexable and searchable, then what purpose does an ad serve?” He’s partly correct. But with a single user identifier in a logged and tagged society, ad serving will be more contextual and so much more powerful. Sadly, the nerds will take over and the creative people will be pushed aside to a degree. Creative selling is still a fundie of marketing and may take a hit in this mobile ad served/cookied era. But is will be back. We are not droids.

Peace. 

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BAM! (And I’m not talking Brooklyn Academy of Music.) Verizon has agreed to buy AOL for $4.4B and AOL’s stock price has jumped like a marlin. Here’s the quote announcing the deal from Verizon’s CEO:

“AOL has once again become a digital trailblazer, and we are excited at the prospect of charting a new course together in the digitally connected world,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said in the statement.

A digital trailblazer? I haven’t seen a lot of trailblazing going on in 15 years. The purchase of TechCrunch was blaze-y enough, I guess, but that brand has laid fallow since Michael Arrington was moved aside. The story in Ad Age suggests a big part of the purchase rationale is AOL’s content, yet the real story is in the ad platform. Specifically, AOL’s ability to track users from desktop to mobile device. And now Verizon offers AOL the ability to collect data from mobile devices like few others. Also Verizon knows where you go on your desktop…and soon may integrate your TV.

The key to being able to do something smart with all of this data is having a single user identifier. A social security number, if you will, for each person on the web. My wife pays the Verizon bill and when I use my mobile to make business calls, her name comes up – so they have a long way to go.

Make no mistake, this deal isn’t about the content, that’s secondary.  It’s about advertising and data and analytics. Good work Verizon, this is a nice start. But don’t turn to AOL for you vision. Nuh uh!

Peace.

 

 

 

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