Is cloud marketing where we’re all headed?

- 14.09.12

In future, brands will be able to tailor their products and services to each individual customer, using information held online – that was the argument at the Digital Bristol presentation we attended last night. But do consumers want this kind of service and are clients ready to embrace so-called marketing 3.0?

In many ways, the rise of social media has broken down the barriers between brands and consumers, but it’s also taken power away from marketers by enabling public conversations to happen about brands without their involvement. Over the coming years, the power balance will be restored in marketers’ favour, argued Neil Wilkins of Viper Marketing. Neil is a regular host at Digital Bristol, an event that brings together the city’s marketers and content creators.

His argument was that the information consumers volunteer about themselves online (or in ‘the cloud’) will enable brands to tailor their product offering and provide a more bespoke service in the real world. So, for example, if you check into a hotel on holiday, that hotel will already know the purpose of your trip and your itinerary before you’ve even touched down at the airport and will be ready to welcome you according to your personal preferences. He likened the approach to the film Minority Report, where your actions are predicted based on past behaviour.

In some respects that model already exists – Amazon, for example, recommends products you may want to buy based on your past purchases. However, this kind of technology is becoming more sophisticated and marketers will have much more detailed information and improved technology to put it into practice in coming years.

Of course the elephant in the room was the issue of privacy. How much to do consumers really want to reveal about themselves online and how comfortable will they be with marketers using this information? Neil’s argument was that we already reveal far more than we think we do, just by accessing platforms like Facebook on a daily basis and using features like the check-in function.

Privacy aside, even if a clever marketer were to devise a system that made all of this possible, what would stop Facebook or Google, or any of the technology giants for that matter, buying up the technology and sitting on it? We’ve seen such cases recently with Facebook’s bid for Instagram. Could such a development be stalled before it even gets off the ground in the current commercial climate?

Furthermore, are brands even ready to wade into such a complex area? Many clients are still getting to grips with social media and the implications for their businesses. It’s going to be a long time before any are ready to even have this conversation, let alone implement changes to their marketing plans.

It’s certainly food for thought but so far it seems that there’s not quite enough solid information here to turn it into a regular part of your marketing diet yet.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Watch Neil’s presentation here.

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