Why Technology Has a Place in Human Marketing

by Bridget Perry

Posted on 03-25-2019

I recent­ly attend­ed Adver­tis­ing Week Europe 2019, where a lot of dis­cus­sion focused on the future of adver­tis­ing tech­nol­o­gy: the excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties of audio; the evo­lu­tion of TV; and of course the respon­si­bil­i­ty of user pri­va­cy that brand’s must nowa­days observe.

How­ev­er, I was asked to par­tic­i­pate in a pan­el dis­cus­sion that looked at adver­tis­ing from a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive: that of Human Mar­ket­ing. Human Mar­ket­ing advo­cates that mar­keters address their mes­sages to peo­ple as human beings, with broad­er inter­ests and per­son­al­i­ties, rather than the neat and homoge­nous tar­get groups we often speak of. The ses­sion raised the ques­tion: Are we get­ting so caught up in tech­nol­o­gy and data that we are los­ing sight of who our cus­tomers are?

From tar­get groups to human beings

One pan­el mem­ber, Tini Sevak, Vice Pres­i­dent Audi­ences & Data at CNN Inter­na­tion­al, used the tar­get group of mums to illus­trate this point. She explained that any woman with a child would find her­self in this cat­e­go­ry, but that doesn’t reveal the full pic­ture of who she is a per­son. She might have oth­er inter­ests, like para­chut­ing or hip hop; she may be a dif­fer­ent per­son on LinkedIn than she is on Face­book, and so on. Brands need to take the time to under­stand the full pic­ture of who she is, and how that changes in dif­fer­ent con­texts, before auto­mat­i­cal­ly plac­ing her in a par­tic­u­lar demo­graph­ic. This is essen­tial if they hope to tar­get her in a way that res­onates with her needs and is use­ful to her.

I real­ly like Tini’s exam­ple, and I believe that it should be the ambi­tion of every brands to get to know their cus­tomer in this more nuanced sense. How­ev­er, I also think tech­nol­o­gy can actu­al­ly help brands get clos­er to the com­plex real­i­ty of who their cus­tomers are. When used cor­rect­ly, data-dri­ven tech­nol­o­gy can build a 360 degree view of the cus­tomer based on the myr­i­ad inter­ac­tions they have with them across var­i­ous chan­nels. This puts brands in a bet­ter posi­tion to deliv­er expe­ri­ences that res­onate with peo­ple on this deep­er level.

Cre­at­ing peo­ple-focused experiences

Cre­at­ing a mem­o­rable con­nec­tion is only the begin­ning. Con­sumers increas­ing­ly expect their inter­ac­tions with brands to add real val­ue to their lives, and they are pre­pared to switch off if they feel they aren’t get­ting this. Encour­ag­ing­ly, brands are also learn­ing to take advan­tage of tech­nol­o­gy to help them offer the sort of enrich­ing expe­ri­ences that cus­tomers are look­ing for. Just look at the way the fin tech indus­try has trans­formed bank­ing from an ana­logue, dis­con­nect­ed (and dare I say frus­trat­ing!) expe­ri­ence, to a seam­less, app-dri­ven one.

I have two daugh­ters and I recent­ly decid­ed to start giv­ing them an allowance. Loathed to go through the process of set­ting every­thing up through the bank, I head­ed to the App store instead. I found an app, Go Hen­ry, that allows me to auto­mat­i­cal­ly trans­fer funds to my daugh­ters, track their spend and set lim­its – my girls can even decide to donate a por­tion of their allowance to char­i­ty. Here is a com­pa­ny that tru­ly under­stands its cus­tomers’ needs – in this case ease and util­i­ty – and pro­vides them with a use­ful and mem­o­rable experience.

Com­bin­ing tech­nol­o­gy with creativity

Don’t get me wrong, tech­nol­o­gy can put brands in a bet­ter posi­tion to con­nect with audi­ences as human beings, but it isn’t enough on its own. Sim­ply under­stand­ing your cus­tomer won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly ensure you make that con­nec­tion that res­onates with them on an emo­tion­al lev­el – for that you also need cre­ativ­i­ty. Brands have tra­di­tion­al­ly relied on the inge­nu­ity of the adver­tis­ing indus­try to cre­ate con­tent that engages and delights audi­ences, and these skills will always be need­ed in tan­dem with tech­nol­o­gy and data.

Great mar­ket­ing is a com­bi­na­tion of art and sci­ence, and one with­out the oth­er is nev­er enough. Tech­nol­o­gy can help us gain a deep­er under­stand­ing of who our cus­tomers are on a human lev­el, but it’s up to us to trans­form that insight into pow­er­ful emo­tion­al con­nec­tions. Data and tech­nol­o­gy are real­ly just an enabler for these deep­er one-on-one con­nec­tions with our audiences.

Topics: Digital Transformation, AdWeek, customer experience, Digital Advertising, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA