If you’ve browsed the website of any big retailer recently, from Argos to Zalando, there’s a good chance you’ll have noticed something that once would have seemed peculiar. Whether you viewed a wheelbarrow or a pair of glow-in-the-dark trainers, you might have been served an advert for the very same product on the next website you visited. As I write, I see a Just Eat Facebook ad probably inspired by my searches for good noodle places.
There was a time when that kind of ‘coincidence’ might have seemed creepy – but few of us are surprised anymore. It’s online personalisation – the curation of our respective Internet decors – and marketers are generally familiar with the rudiments of this practice. It’s being used by airlines, sports stores, restaurant chains, banks, jewellers, supermarkets – most retail verticals in most online spaces, not just on Amazon.
Personalisation isn’t mysterious, but rather the being focused on individuals, personalisation needs user patterns, and many brands are focused on micro-level personalisation that helps them to remarket, which can lead them to miss some parts of the bigger picture.
In most online experiences, user footprints are tracked, allowing remarketing opportunities – that wheelbarrow you viewed, those noodles I viewed. But we can automate further improvements to the online marketing experience by curating what users who have tread similar paths to us have opted for.
Of course, the more data available – job titles, marital statuses and so on – the closer some marketers feel we come to a much-awaited era of hyper-personalisation. But there lies the rub – or rubs….