"There are other interesting targets out there, whether it is a large entertainment company or something … like Walmart making a big push into e-commerce," Jon Elvekrog speculates on the potential for an acquisition in Yahoo’s future in Monday, September 15th’s airing of "Street Smart."
Just a few weeks ago, Silicon Valley was shaken up yet again, this time not by a disruptive startup or a Google power play but literally, by an earthquake in the middle of the night. True to form, tech enthusiasts in San Francisco took to Twitter to talk about it. What got us chattering, though, was the data collected from Jawbone users in the Bay Area that night. Only in 2014, when the wearable tech industry is projected to grow an astounding 350%, could this kind of tech dominate the conversation over the earthquake itself. And like iBeacon and social data targeting, it’s threatening the traditional demographics-driven model of marketing.
You don’t need to look very far to see just how much the wearable tech industry has taken off. Step into any gym these days and you’re likely to see more than a few fitness fanatics sporting FitBits designed to help them track every step taken and each calorie consumed. For those who are less health inclined, there are “iRings” designed to help you make music with a wave of your hand. For industry analysts and consumers alike, it’s clear at this point that the wearable craze is here to stay.
Beyond the locker room
Wearable tech is about more than just counting calories, of course. It’s also a huge pool of data that’s helping consumers gather insights about their health and activity.Perhaps just as importantly, it informs industries and offers useful insights to marketers. For instance, wearable tech and its reserves of data have already had a huge impact the healthcare industry. When some smartphone apps and wearable tech sync, parents can monitor their diabetic child’s glucose levels from afar. Imagine, then, if health insurers were able to access that same data via the child’s device and adjust the family’s insurance rate accordingly. According to a growing number of analysts, it’s likely to happen. Of course, access to big data in this way doesn’t always bode well for consumers, and will likely usher in a new slew of privacy debates. Even so, it’s part of a growing pile of evidence of just how much wearable tech’s data will become integrated in our lives and business.
Demographics’ days are numbered
If anything, the rapid-fire growth of wearable tech serves as an important reminder that marketers have the unique opportunity —and a growing imperative— to look beyond basic demographics as they aim to reach consumers. Advertising has become overly reliant on demographics which make its targeted consumer look, frankly, one-dimensional. But there are opportunities to expand interest-based targeting, as Amazon’s ad network and the growing anonymous app space are showing. As the wearable tech world continues to spawn new forms of data, marketers should look to broaden their demographic horizons just as their industry constituents have. While analysts tend to focus on the future of the wearable tech, technology has already become closely entwined with our own lives. Marketers should take a close look at how these new fields and data not only integrate into their consumers’ everyday routines, but also into their own targeting strategies.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at a brand new project coming from 140 Proof.
We’ve partnered with our friends at LaunchSquad to create a video that explains to the world how 140 Proof connects people with the things they love.
Earlier this week, we got a glimpse of the production work happening on the video. As you might guess, the characters in the video represent different personas that our customers can target using interest-based social data.
The global superpower tech race of our generation has been heating up lately, with the most recent developments occurring in ad tech. We’re always interested in what Amazon is up to, from rolling out its own smartphone to acquiring Twitch and its audience of 55 million gamers, so it didn’t escape our attention when the world’s largest eTailer revealed its plans for launching its own ad network last week.
The widespread discussion launched by this development has mainly focused on how it will impact the $50 billion a year AdWords business Google currently does, but Amazon’s expansion to advertising signifies more than the most recent power play in a battle of the tech giants: it highlights an industry-wide need to approach ad targeting from a more holistic perspective.
As Amazon replaces the Google ads that currently live on its site and plans to roll out its Amazon Sponsored Links service, marketers eagerly await the positive market impacts that adding another ad publisher into the mix will create. But beyond potentially lower costs and access to shopper intent data, Amazon’s entrance into ad tech addresses opportunity in an industry-wide quest to move beyond targeting devices and cookies and provide a universal view of the consumer.
With competition and idea exchange playing out at a high profile level, the ad tech industry on whole is motivated to leverage targeting methods strategically in order to market effectively. The purchase data that Amazon offers and search data provided by AdWords constitute strong shopper intent signals for purchase, while social data remains the imperative interest signal that brands must harness for upper funnel goals. In addition to recognizing the value of these different targeting methods, competition and idea exchange (whether it’s Google emulating elements of Amazon’s ad design or Amazon staking its claim in what has formerly been AdWords territory) will ultimately optimize the ability to target effectively.
The landscape is certainly shifting, and a segmented view of individuals’ search or browsing behavior is no longer sufficient. Instead, a more comprehensive understanding of consumers as the multi-dimensional humans they are is rapidly becoming the industry standard. One thing is for sure: it will be interesting to witness the changes that cross-pollination and competition inspire as we enter a new era in ad tech.
140 Proof, the company that uses social data to select ads on web and mobile based on a user’s interests, today announced that it has been granted Patent #8,751,305, “Targeting Users Based on Persona Data,” by the United States Patent Office. This patent is fundamental to the operation of a business that uses cues from social activity for targeting ads or content.
The patent covers a method of targeted advertisement distribution based on persona data derived from a social network, wherein the social network includes a plurality of content streams, each content stream associated with a user and a user summary. The method includes the steps of receiving an advertisement request from a third party environment with associated content, identifying a content stream that includes a reference to the third party content, identifying a persona based on the user associated with the identified content stream, and serving an advertisement to the third party environment based on the identified persona.
140 Proof’s initial filing to the Patent Office was made on May 24, 2010. At the time of the filing, the company was already monetizing the interest graph, having launched its first interest-targeted ad product in January. Twitter was still seven months away from launching its first, untargeted ads. Facebook was promoting social graph marketing. Pinterest was one month old.
140 Proof has a strong history of innovation, including the first self-serve socialadvertising, the first social ads API, and the first social ads for mobile. Since the filing date, 140 Proof has used their methods of persona development across the evolving landscape of available social data, launching the Blended Interest Graph in 2012.
“We have believed for a long time that the most powerful signal of a person’s interests can be derived from their public social activity. Who we connect with, what content we share, where we check in, the subjects we talk about – all these cues and more can tell us how to interpret the individual’s persona and understand what sorts of ads, content, products and more will be relevant and interesting to them,” said 140 Proof CEO Jon Elvekrog. ”The portfolio of patents and pending applications protects our many methods and inventions around using social data to build interest-based personas for ad and content targeting. We’ve been first out of the gate and will explore every path to generating revenue from our work.”
“140 Proof was extremely early to demonstrate the power of social data to identify audiences based on their personas and match them with relevant ads,” said Jorey Ramer, founder of mobile ad platform Jumptap and an advisor to the company. Mr. Ramer is the first named inventor on over 70 patents. “This is the Hope Diamond of social advertising patents.”
Lucky Magazine’s dive into online commerce is the latest example of brands’ need to merge the physical and the virtual. Retail brands have been caught in a game of tug-of-war for consumer attention as far back as anyone can remember, but the combination of rapidly evolving technology and the rise of actionable data now has them playing a whole new game: the race to bridge the gap between the digital and brick-and-mortar experience.
Companies like True&Co and Warby Parker are among the frontrunners in this race, but they’re by no means the only innovators in the space. Fueled by their ability to capture and understand consumer insights and their convenient delivery models, they’re reinventing the traditional shopping experience. This new shopping ecosystem challenges traditional retailers to better understand consumer behavior and innovate in order to appeal to a new generation of on-the-go, digitally savvy shoppers.
Tech Up or Lose Out
The shift toward injecting digital into the in-store experience isn’t just taking place in the pages of tech and retail publications —it’s already happening on “Main Street” as companies like Walgreens apply new technology outside and within the store as well. Using augmented reality, Walgreens is taking a unique approach to helping shoppers find toothpaste in aisle 5 or batteries in aisle 10. In many respects this is a competitive move to keep consumers happy and in-stores, rather than lose them to delivery services like SOAP or Amazonfresh. But the buck doesn’t stop there— these days, an exceptional in-store experience can only get you so far. Walgreens addresses this head on with an award winning mobile app recently integrated with iBeacon technology. Their app integrates the in-store experience with the convenience of online shopping— you can add shopping lists, order QuickPrints from Instagram and receive prescription reminders. With the help of iBeacon, the app even reminds shoppers of saved coupons when they enter a store.
A New Generation of Retailers Emerge
Companies are making a conscious effort to enhance their digital offerings and provide a seamless experience regardless of where or how shoppers choose to engage. With this digital mindset, a new crop of businesses have emerged such as Warby Parker, True&Co and Trunk Club, that bring the in-store, hands-on experience to consumers. Using personal data volunteered by shoppers, both True&Co and Trunk Club determine the best fit and style of bras and clothing and then send a sample box of options to shoppers’ doorsteps. These companies are quite literally bringing the in-store shopping experience home, by using consumer information to identify and deliver exactly what shoppers are looking for. They’ve expanded upon the fast, convenient home shipment model that consumers have come to expect, allowing shoppers to seamlessly integrate brand interaction into their busy lives.
Big Data to Retail’s Rescue
In many ways, this growing intersection of ecommerce, content, and the in-store experience is possible because of data. More than any other time in history, companies have unprecedented access to a treasure trove of consumer information. In fact, more than 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in just the last two years alone! This includes data from all the information consumers share about their preferences and interests on social media. All of those “likes”, “pins” and status updates contribute to consumers’ digital footprint and provide a window into who they are, the type of engagement they desire, and how brands can interact with them. Social interest and other types of digital data provide unique insight into consumer behavior and interests. This enables companies like True&Co and Walgreens, for example, to tailor experiences to specific shoppers and continue to blur the lines between brick-and-mortar and ecommerce.
Big data is, well, a big deal. It’s the catalyst for many of the shifts we are seeing across industries including marketing, technology, and now retail. As for retail, the impact of big data doesn’t just make for seamless experiences, but a whole new way to shop, like hologram departments, connected shelves and yes, even robots.
One of the great things about disposable social media like Snapchats is the freedom to say whatever you like when you know there’s no paper trail. And now that Snapchat is more popular among young people than Facebook and Twitter, what’s the next step?
It’s not just disposable social media, but anonymous disposable social media.
Secret, Whisper, YikYak, and Anomo are all jockeying for millennial attention in the anonymous space. Much like a mobile-first Formspring, these apps allow people to exchange anonymous messages with their friends or nearby strangers. And they’ve stirred up their share of drama.
Advertisers Confess Interest in Secret Sharing Apps
But anonymous sharing apps are more than a rumor mill. They signal that advertisers need to expand their targeting data beyond simple demographics, get more creative with new tools like social interest, GPS, and content data, and consequently get more relevant.
Demographic Targeting, Once Again, Isn’t the Answer
But despite all the hype, not everyone is on board quite yet. For some, anonymous sharing apps like Secret are missing a crucial piece of the digital advertising puzzle—accessible targeting information. Secrecy, the very crux of these apps, becomes problematic for advertisers who want to find their audiences. But not every ad exec is too worked up about it: some argue that having the GPS data from users, as well as the content of their posts, is in fact more useful than knowing a user’s age.
While the anonymity of these apps has made audience targeting more difficult in some respects, they can also push the ad industry to place an emphasis on overall privacy in advertising. Afterall, it was the anonymous and private nature of these apps— something that’s hard to come by in our digital age— that attracted users in the first place.The popularity of these apps is a signal to Madison Avenue that it’s time to leverage more private forms of targeting, whether it’s public social data like we use here at 140 Proof, or the content of users’ posts as in Whisper. You might even be surprised by a more precise outcome.
Media planners at big media agencies can be a tough crowd to break into, especially for first-time sellers. It might not be a stretch to liken top-tier ad buyers to the popular kids in high school. But the industry sites SellerCrowd and BuyerCrowd have sellers and planners passing around trade secrets like folded-up notes in 4th period Algebra II.
Since its inception in 2011, SellerCrowd has provided those peddling ad space a means to clear obstacles to pitching. Rather than counting on their own, possibly limited network to find who buys for what brand, SellerCrowd helps salespeople figure out who to call on. SellerCrowd has been able to maintain this secretive network by requiring its users to use a LinkedIn login to sign up for the site to verify that they’re actually sellers themselves. If it turns out that they’re not actual sellers (often buyers miming sellers to see what’s being said on the site), then it’s tough luck for them—they’re kicked off the site.
Jumping on SellerCrowd’s success, a sibling site has cropped up for digital ad buyers— BuyerCrowd. BuyerCrowd is the same as SellerCrowd, but in reverse— media buyers can swap trade secrets about the sellers that they closely work with. Need to know who’s buying for Acme? Use SellerCrowd. Need to know whose meeting to take? You want BuyerCrowd. All in all, these sites have sustained a community of 20,000 ad buyers and sellers gossiping about their contacts for the benefit of their work.
SellerCrowd, BuyerCrowd, and Programmatic: All Signs Point to Efficiency
These communities are emblematic of more than just business gossip: they also signify major shifts in the way in which the ad buying business is conducted. New anonymous exchanges like these sites have equipped everyone to make faster and more efficient transactions, threatening to kill off the traditional two-hour lunch. It’s hard not to take note of parallels to the overall digital shifts in advertising too, as an increasing number of players also turn to tech with programmatic advertising. With faster, automated transactions empowered by insights from social data, buyers and sellers can still take the two-hour lunch with all the time they save.