Five Trends to Watch in 2012: Part 2

Bryce MarshallOn Wednesday I began what has now become a yearly tradition of sharing some of the direct digital marketing trends I think will make a big impact this year.
I started off with trend one of five: Mobile and Social Own the Conversation. 2011 was a year where marketers understood the importance and value of mobile and social paradigms and 2012 will see the continuing tipping of the scales. Campaign execution will transition into a modified holistic view of consumer interaction where mobile and social elements represent the crux of digital consumer engagement, not outlying or niche channels.

Let’s take a look at the second trend I’ll be keeping an eye on:

#2 – Understanding multi-screen profiles In 2012 digital consumers are multi-screen consumers. In my 2011 piece, I identified the “four screens and counting” dilemma. The prevalence of multiple wired screens within reach of the digital consumer during the course of the day (TV, desktop/laptop computer, tablet, and smartphone) creates hurdles for marketers. This means increasing technical complexity from an execution standpoint, and fractured views of individual consumers. Even though cross-channel consumer data (another focus for marketers in 2012) is important and becoming a more tangible reality every day, the concept of communicating with an individual profile across their four screens is still elusive.

2012 will be the year that marketers begin to make sense of the fractured multi-screen profile, both in terms of creating a single holistic view of this device-hopping user and better understanding the inherent schizophrenic behavior that comes with multi-device use habits.

About a month ago I read about IBM’s efforts to re-think and re-design the venerable email inbox specifically for mobile (smartphone) users. Why? Because research clearly shows that the same person has far different priorities and traits when accessing their email inbox from their smartphone vs. their desktop computer. It’s the same person; it’s the same email in their inbox. But the mere difference of the device being used to access the inbox makes all the difference in the world to turning priorities and user traits upside down.

As direct digital marketers in 2012 we have two mandates for understanding multi-screen profiles: use the increasingly powerful tools at techniques at our disposal to aggregate user and activity data from cross-channel activities into consolidated consumer profiles, yet be wary of using that single consolidated profile view to dictate segmentation and targeting regardless of the point of interaction. We can aggregate attributes like demographics, purchase history, browsing behavior and more, and create increasingly actionable insights. But these insights may always be trumped by the specific needs and desires signaled to us by the user’s device of the moment. While the primary online shopper within a young family may always buy the large box of diapers at Amazon with standard ground shipping, the same shopper while on a mobile device may only be interested in the small box and rush shipping.

Understanding, reacting to and creating a smarter view of these multi-screen profiles is an imperative for 2012 – and a trend to watch.

Check back next week for the rest of my trends to watch!

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  3. […] are: #4 — Consumer data, privacy and preferences #3 – Multi-/cross-channel attribution #2 – Understanding multi-screen profiles #1 – Mobile and social own the […]

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