Compelling Advertising and the Technology Trap

A recent Subaru ad clearly demonstrates the power of targeted, emotional selling. The ad features a dad giving his car keys to his young daughter on her first solo drive; it is simple, interruptive and relevant, which makes it memorable to the target market and likely to build sales for the brand.

But, I am not in the target market of young families, which underscores the point I often make that, to be successful communicating and building a brand, a company’s focus must be on customers to which it sells. Reaching customers other than the target audience is just “spill out,” which increases the cost of touching likely buyers, a critical consideration but one rarely considered in budgeting.

In my last post I addressed the double blind trap of technology, specifically the need for companies to selectively exploit technology in order to be commercially competitive versus the legal risk of using technology, intended or not, to abuse employees or customers. This might be applicable here.

Consider a recently published debate by Wired about the death of the Internet, namely the end of open source and evolution to “semi-closed” platforms (think Apps) like Facebook, Twitter or Pandora. It is worth reading and considering. Google and others are collecting massive amounts of data about how people use the web, a shorthand for cognitive and emotive behavior. In turn, such data can be either intrusive if abused or highly valuable if applied “properly”. That is the trap.

So what sales and profit impact would the Subaru ad have if the company were able to target families – specifically those that are middle-class, have known behavior patterns that favor safety versus adventure, and with children just starting to drive who both respect those values and have a personal sense of self reliance? Algorithms analyzing keystrokes are giving clues to these conjoint behaviors, which of course result in messages directed at you, whether email, text or social.

Today, as never before, we have the ability to narrow focus the message with little “spill out” wasted on unlikely buyers.

Now if the car ad was about Ferrari, it’d be a whole different story.

Is this a great time to be in brand marketing? Without a doubt.

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