Marketing has really upped its game over the last few years and as social media has provided the perfect platform for personalised ads and content, consumers now expect that brands can target them specifically and ignore more general ads.
While the future of social media marketing has been somewhat clouded by the recent emerging stories surrounding Cambridge Analytica, it seems hasty to assume that it will be impacted for too long. The fact is that people want ads that speak to them and their needs and, if we’re honest, how many people really thought that the spike in interesting material was a coincidence?
The real problem with the whole thing was the lack of transparency. People didn’t know which information was being collected, how it was being used or who was allowed to use it. So it seems reasonable to assume that transparency will take a much stronger position in the future of marketing.
Knowing Exactly Who is Using Your Site
It is no secret that you can be anyone you like online. Pseudonyms, fake IDs and false pictures are almost constantly in the news as scammers, catfish and trolls wreak havoc. Since the arrival of cryptocurrencies, there has been much debate about whether the digital world should be anonymous or transparent and so far there isn’t much in the way of compromise.
However, there is now software available that can verify customers IDs in real time. All it needs is a picture of a form of ID such as a driving licence held up to a camera and it can track down whether the ID is legitimate or not. This could well change the way that all age-restricted sites are managed and kept within the legal guidelines but could also help marketers really hone in on the specific audience visiting.
Encouraging Data Sharing
Many companies already encourage their customers to share their data and this is likely to continue into the future. One of the main problems with Cambridge Analytica was that their usage wasn’t transparent. In contrast, many people are more than happy to provide an email address and birthday to get a birthday treat, or enter a name and phone number to get a quote. People are also quite happy to like something on Facebook in order to be in with a chance of winning a prize.
In the future, what companies do with the data they collect will have to be much more transparent to reassure customers that they are safe. Many companies already do this with a simple data security policy.
Considering the Ethics
Finally, it is worth considering the ethics of targeted marketing. When you are using data to present your customers with worthwhile content or to give them bonuses you are essentially opening up an opportunity for mutual benefit. You only use the information you are given to present something.
The balance has to be found between persuasive marketing that offers an opportunity and manipulation that has rippling effects. That is where the future of targeted marketing should be looking for answers now.