Collecting consumer data online may be easy, but it lacks in one area: instant gratification for the user.
Collecting consumer data offline may require more work, but its real-time gratification factor can be summed up with two words: free donuts.
Some quick background for context: It was my birthday not too long ago, so I have a free Starbucks drink on my card. I'm writing this from the St. Louis airport, and apparently, the Starbucks here doesn’t redeem birthday drinks. Oh well -- what else should I expect from a chain inside of an airport? I’m not up to snuff on the politics of it all; I just accept that airports and everything about them are different and get over it.
I turned around and saw Dunkin’ Donuts. I ordered a bagel with cream cheese and was told to fill a survey out at the bottom of the receipt to receive a free donut. I sat down at my gate, ate my bagel and filled out the survey. It took five minutes.
Would I get a strawberry or maple donut? Would they let me get a cinnamon roll?
As I walked down the airport terminal toward my free donut, a wave of dread swept over me. Perhaps Dunkin’ would tell me I couldn’t redeem my coupon that day -- that I would have to hold onto my receipt until the next time I ended up in this city, at this terminal, and at this gate again. I had already spilled cream cheese on it! Was I about to fall victim to some dastardly data collection scheme?
My fear was unfounded. The cashier
accepted my receipt -- cream cheese and all -- and exchanged it for a maple donut. Cinnamon rolls are too fancy to be doled out for free, I guess.
In the end, the donut was not free; I willingly paid for it with my data.
This wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time a company offers something free to consumers who fill out surveys. But this airport
experience struck a chord with me as it relates to collecting data, which is the heart of programmatic media-buying, and highlighted differences between online and offline collection. The two methods
even mix -- this “offline” data collection on Dunkin’s part included an online survey.
The instant gratification factor is something that keeps brick-and-mortar upright. It's funny that an industry turning toward real-time -- online advertising -- is limited in its ability to provide something to users in real-time. When it comes to data collection, could this turn into a hindrance?
"Donut" photo from Shutterstock.