Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Plasticity of Customer Interaction Strategy

A bit of a nerd-out point today, "unintended consequences of ad targeting" by way Seamus. Seamus's insight is (in my opinion) dramatic:
"Last year I commented that some friends and I had found the easiest way to be alerted when ski chalets became available at the resort we wanted to visit was to knock up a wiki page with the name of the resort and a few words about skiing, run AdSense over the page and then wait for the relevant ads to be brought to us. As ad targeting gets more precise (and accurate) it becomes trivial to simply design a page so that the right ads come to you. AdWords are not just commercial messages: manipulated the right way, they're a tailored newsfeed about things you want to buy".
Now, that's a pretty neat way to use an intelligent alerting service. How long before we start writing up "Asks" by setting up contexts on our own blogs and websites, and waiting to see what offers "ad sense" makes? but Seamus also used the service in a very, very unusual way:
"Yesterday I found what I'm confident will become another use for ad targeting. Pondering attending a pub quiz, I had a look at some web pages that talked about the pub in question. The ads alongside those pages were all for distressed-credit services such as LogBookLoans, debt consolidation and other financial services clearly designed for what marketers would euphemistically call the C2-D/E audience. This gave me pause. If the ads were targeted correctly (and increasingly they are), perhaps this wasn't the event or the venue for me".
Of course the context here might have been that the "page" Seamus was visiting only related tangential to the pub in question, or maybe there just were not many links elsewhere on the web to that pub, so that page had an "unrepresentative weighting", but the overall architecture of the argument holds, surely. How long before posting something like "Paul Sweeney" is going to "Pub DC1", in "Location ABC" begins to affect the offers that are made to me in ad sense and how long before this "event publishing" begins to effect my own credit rating? Seamus's points show that a lead user can re-purpose your service to deliver even more value. Your challenge is to enable them to do it, potentially by being as open as you possibly can. Would Google allow you to "hack" such a solution together for alerting purposes? You bet! why? because it would increase the value of their ad sense platform, and make it stronger. At VoiceSage one of our customers took the capability of having a postal address confirmed by a respondent and turned it into a completely new type of service offer for the company. Other customers have "hacked together" business continuity alerting solutions, and potential fraud alerts.

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