As we always do when we attend industry events, I thought I'd share some of my quick thoughts with the hope that even if you weren't there, you'll feel the essence of what fellow marketers are feeling and talking about.
For me, the show was about three major themes:
- Do Not Track: there is much discussion and debate happening about how to handle user privacy on the Internet, especially in regards to the amount of information websites (marketers) collect through basic cookie technology to track user behavior and use that data to market strategically. While marketers argue this technology allows for more relevant advertising and also much of the Internet remaining free, privacy advocates, the U.S. Congress and FTC as well as worldwide organizations are proposing legislation and/or standards that would make tracking users online a much more overt decision by the user than it is now. As you can imagine, this debate pits marketers against Internet users. It's too soon to know where this debate will take us, but it's safe to say that an impact to the way marketers market is likely.
- Big Data: Marketers have access to lots of data. Clicks, demographic information, what pages you visited, what you're searching for online and much, much more. That data is really powerful because marketing truly is delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. And getting that 'right' happens with data, not lucky guesses. But with so much data at our disposal, how do you separate true signals versus noise? It's not easy, and the data is not always right, but treating it with a healthy dose of respect is certainly better than ignoring it completely.
- Email: Email remains a great marketing channel. This was true five years ago, and remains true today. The emails you're sending today, versus five years ago, should be targeted, timely and relevant (sensing a theme?) - not just the 'spray and pray' approach that may have worked way back when. Inbox competition is fierce, but if you're sending messages to people who want to hear from you, companies large and small are seeing success. You should be too.
As you may have noticed, these three themes are all interrelated. Because of the vast array of data us marketers have at our disposal, our emails (and really, much of our advertising), has gotten much stronger over the years. But we are seeing friction from the recipients of those efforts to try and restrict the ability of marketers to market strategically. Marketers will argue data is central to receiving relevant advertising (since advertising isn't going anywhere). Privacy advocates and yes, maybe even the government, will argue that users should be made more aware of what data is being collected and how it's being used.
Time, as they say, will tell.