Tech-Driven Marketing Can Creep You Out

Tech-driven marketing has its pluses, but at the Bloomberg Market Leaders panel at Advertising Week, one speaker highlighted the other side.

Anush Prabhu, partner and chief channel planning and investment officer for Deutsch Inc., noted that a little while ago, he downloaded a restaurant-finder app that quickly gave him some good suggestions.

But a few days after, that service emailed him a handful of suggestions for good Indian restaurants. “I hadn’t asked for Indian restaurants,” he said, but technology assumed the obvious about his last name, and obviously figured wrong. That's an example of intrusions consumers often find downright "creepy."

His point, picked up by others on the panel, was that data interpretation does a disservice if it doesn’t take a look at the fuller picture. Julie Levin, chief marketing officer for Publicis North America, said missing “soft points” of data is a frequent sin in the industry.

But so is just knowing what you’re looking for.

David Westin, now an anchor for Bloomberg, formerly the president of ABC News, recalled that every year while he was at the network, he was able to witness testing for new series. But he always thought the researchers asked the wrong question. Instead of asking test subjects what they thought of the shows, he thought the network should ask what products they bought and lifestyle questions, then create shows that reflected that reality, rather than the other way around.

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