The time has come for online and offline to become one

Feb. 11, 2014 | by marc.belle

Last August I opened a discussion on whether there really was ‘online’ or ‘offline’ anymore, and how harnessing digital can not only improve how you advertise but ensures that customers actually only get what they are interested in. As I sat enjoying my first caffeine fix of the day watching BBC Breakfast yesterday I saw a report that highlighted everything I was talking about, in action.

Tim Muffet did a report on Apple’s new iBeacon technology being implemented in stores throughout the US and soon to be in the UK. These are small indoor transmitters that work off the new Bluetooth 4.0 technology. They sense when someone with a smartphone is nearby and then push information to the phone. In conjunction with app development companies, you can enhance this engagement. So if you were in a high street shop standing next to a shirt you had been looking at online, it could send you a push notification saying, “This is the shirt you’ve been looking at”, or “The shirt you are looking at is now on sale”.

Some have been quick to point out that if we were all walking around looking at our phones, we’d soon be bumping into everything and each other! I can see what they are getting at but I really do believe that this tech is a step in the right direction.

Why? Well, for one it starts to open the door for a variety of creative options. For example if I only half completed an order of that shirt on the website, I could still be encouraged to complete my order in-store. By cross referencing information and seeing I was almost there with the sale, I could be sent a discount code specifically to use right there for that particular item. And if the technology was built into digital screens, then the poster nearest to me could present me with that information instead. At least then I wouldn’t be walking around staring at my phone the entire time! But then, if you had been looking at more intimate items and were in  a lingerie shop, for example, you probably wouldn’t want what you’d been looking at showing up on screens around the store!

So, clearly the technology is on the move, but what does this all mean for advertisers? Well bringing this back to what I highlighted last year – advertisers need to be getting seriously clever about how they take the digital information they collect on their audience and make advertising relevant to the consumer in a useful and truly engaging way, without becoming too intrusive.. It is therefore about creating adverts that can be tailored to individuals.  With so many formats to consider for advertising and so many variables for different types of consumers, ensuring you make all your creative dynamic is essential as the way we advertise and people consume changes. But this is not an excuse to let the quality of the creative work slip.  Just because the content needs to be dynamic and personalised, this doesn’t mean we can’t make it look great and have awe-inspiring visuals or campaigns.

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    Comments (2)

    • sravtclave

    • Malcolm

      You’re right, not making it intrusive or worse, creepy, is fundamental to all this so there will need to be explicit customer buy-in with a clear benefit stated up-front and assurances of privacy. i.e. “We’d like to know your location in our stores and use the data on your interactions with us so that we can offer you exclusive discounts and tailored advice on product selection. We won’t give this data to anyone else, ever”

      Once that is safely squared away we’re free to think holistically about the entire customer experience.

      It definitely moves the question from “online or offline?” to “what overall experience do we want?”Feb 11, 2014 12:48 pm

     
    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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