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Tuesday 2¢: The Market is Looking for Convenience, Not Personalized Ads

Tuesday 2¢: The Market is Looking for Convenience, Not Personalized Ads

Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott gets personal about convenience and its worth to the customer.


When the Ford Mustang was launched in 1964, it was wildly successful. Lee Iacocca, the Ford executive responsible for the Mustang, apparently accounted for its success with this quote:

"It wasn't a car looking for a market, it was a market looking for a car" .

It’s one of my favorite business quotes and I was reminded of it when reading this article by Mark Ritson , who is still peeling back the layers of what the Cambridge Analytica scandal is exposing in terms of our relationship with data. The premise being that there is only one bunch of people walking the earth who want a Minority Report-esque utopia of personalized ads and it’s not the consumer, it’s us - marketers.

This, says Ritson, is “product-orientation”, where we as marketers focus hard on what we do and not on what the consumer wants.

Take any poll on the subject of personalization vs privacy and (aside from the “personalization pioneers”) the voice of the consumer screams “privacy” - a scream which becomes even louder when recent events demonstrate that marketing data can mobilize perfectly rational human beings into making unexpected choices with their vote.

Ritson refers to a quote from Seth Godin:

“Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers” .

Which is a much more hip marketing quote to reach for than my habit of quoting Iacocca.

So if we frame the conversation differently, would a consumer trade convenience for privacy?

Well, as I have written in this column before , I think that data governance, transparency and GDPR should be seen as an opportunity.

Does the consumer want the browser to remember their password? Do frequent travelers want their airline to remember their home airport? During a five minute wait in a taxi queue would you like to scroll through all of the global sports news to see the latest news on your team or would you prefer to be pushed a score?

Of course, we all would.

And that’s before we even get to buying stuff, especially regular stuff, and it’s a colossal pain in the arse.

I recently stood in front of a wall of every conceivable kind of sneaker in a sports store. I thought I had a clear idea of what I wanted, but even applying my filter of brand (Adidas), color (black) and style (white stripes) I still had ten to choose from (check out the Adidas website, there are actually 120 different styles of black trainers).

Talking to the young, hip, footwear assistant (or ‘shoey’ apparently) was no help, aside from his ability to work a ladder and fetch me a pair from a high shelf. He had no experience or empathy for my forty-eight-year-old need to balance looking somewhat casual for a conference without looking like a complete cock.

Maybe buying sneakers is your leisure thing, but for me, I am slightly introverted about this stuff and it was torture. And it could have been avoided with the right approach.

I would have traded any data for a virtual assistant that used Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data firehose and just brought to my house a pair of Adidas Neo Advantage (or whatever the bloody hell they are) with some reassuring data-driven content marketing about how all the non-cock but slightly casual looking business executives are wearing them this year and no, you won’t look like you are having a mid-life crises.

In fact, to me, that would have been more ‘private’ than if I had tried to explain to the ‘Shoey’ that I have these anxieties - which, of course I didn’t do, and people can’t help you unless you tell them not just what you want but also why.

And it’s this kind of convenience that the market is looking for - I am not the only one - so we need to move the conversation toward that, to explain how much better life will be with a bit of information flow.

In the same way that Iacocca nailed it by finding a market that was looking for a car, we need to channel the advice from Godin and “find products for our customers”. We need to stop using data just because we can, and use it instead because it helps the consumer.

The market is looking for convenience, not personalized ads.

Ian Truscott Ian Truscott

Ian Truscott has the unofficial and honory title of the “Träger des Firmen-Megaphons” for censhare, bringing 20 years of B2B software experience to our company (surely starting as a child) to lead marketing here. Luckily for us in the Munich office, he’s found the kettle and some tea bags – look at him, he’s happy.

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