When I visit Amazon, I realize that the company knows me to a frightening extent. My Amazon landing page includes a dog breed identification DNA test, DVDs of “The Godfather” and “Spider-Man” and scented candles (hmm, my daughter must have bought something on my account.) There are wished-for items (Nintendo Switch Sports) and things I was interested in buying recently (a metal filter for a Chemex pour-over coffee maker, Bluetooth headphones, some recent books I’d been browsing.)
Though I’m not sure that I’d want other marketers to know me that well, I do like the idea of hyper-personalization a bit. For instance, if I search on Google, I wouldn’t mind an optional “Suggestions for You” tab that could suggest things I’m looking for right now (podcasts that might interest you, running shoes you might like, books on topics that interest you). Such suggestions would be helpful, but only if I’m in the right mood.
The problem is context.
When I’m hurried and looking for a quick answer, then such suggestions are an annoyance. For instance, usually when I fill up my gas tank, I just want to pay and leave as quickly as humanly possible. But there are other times when I could use a suggestion on shopping deals nearby or reminders (yes, we could use milk, thanks for the reminder).
But there are other times when I’m open to suggestions. I may be bored and browsing the Internet when I see an ad for something I didn’t realize I needed (A wall rack for the garage! "The Candy House," a sequel to "A Visit from the Goon Squad," which I read in 2011), when I would be very appreciative of the idea.
The challenges are that there are only a few things I’m looking for. What I need from advertisers is a concierge, who will search the Internet for things I might like and then make the best case for them. In addition to an ad, maybe send me a recent article on the topic.
So, marketers, here’s my advice: Learn from context when I’m open to pitches and then do your darnedest to make those pitches as relevant to my personal situation and quirky tastes as possible.