Technology brings potential for relevance, personalizing

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When my (now) husband and I drove out of Brooklyn last month for our Vermont wedding and Maine honeymoon, we enjoyed our first extended experience with a GPS tracking device.

We were immediately mesmerized by British-accented “Emily” and Australian-accented “Karen” telling us to “keep left in 500 feet,” or, when we went off the directed path, to “make a U-turn.” But as we left bustling New York City behind and began the seemingly endless journey up I-95, we began to wish our old-school GPS could do much more — let us know where the nearest ATM could be found, for example, or the closest gas station.

Of course, as I found out later, new-style GPS systems do just that — but it got me thinking about all the other things I'd like my GPS to tell me when I'm on a road trip; for example, if there is a Ben & Jerry's within 10 miles of my location — or a Trader Joe's, or a GAP outlet, or a great lobster shack (in Maine, of course).

These days, astounding opportunities are continually aris­ing for marketers to give customers exactly the information they want, when they want it and how they want it. GPS is just one option to accomplish that — mobile, social networking and geo-targeted search are others (check out this week's main feature on geo-targeted search, p15).

The good news is that many consumers are open to getting personalized, targeted information sent to them, as long as they can request what they want by opting in and opt out of what we'd rather not receive. I know I would appreciate that kind of win-win partnership — especially during a long road trip.

Oh, and we found the nearest Ben & Jerry's — on our own — right after saying “I do.” I recommend its new flavor, Cake Batter.

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