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The Monday Stack

Welcome to our new feature at DMN, a weekly round-up of news, opinions, observations, and visionary statements about marketing technology and operations, the marketing stack, and marketing strategy in a data-driven age.  

So far, so good on the Snap IPO, with a 44% gain on share value over the original asking price of $17. It’s early days, of course: Recall the stumbles Facebook took after its stock market debut before starting what has been a relentless climb. Among the winners: NBCUniversal, reportedly the only U.S. media company with a stake, with an investment of half a billion dollars; Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, CA, which made a $15K investment in Snapchat less then four years ago, and cashed in for over $20 million yesterday; and, of course, co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, now said to be worth $4 billion each.

We described significant benefits to marketers from Snapchat in an in-depth study last May.

Is it time to say “Farewell Personas”? Act-On is just the latest source to tell us that data-driven marketing could and should go beyond broad characterization of audience segments, and move towards a unique, 1:1 relationship with customers. Boomtrain is another vendor trying to drive home that message. 

After all, none of us can really be reduced to our consumer selves. 

How long have personas been around, anyway? Almost a quarter of a century, it turns out, with the credit going to Angus Jenkinson, a British marketer and entrepreneur — and now professor — who established the concept at OgilvyOne in the early 1990s. For Jenkinson, personas were a step “beyond segmentation.” In his 1994 paper of that title, Jenkinson argues that segmentation — by then a well-established methodology — didn’t go far enough. “Specifically,” he asked, “how well does segmentation cope with the concept and fact of the ‘individual’ customer (a term used to mean business or private customer throughout).” But this focus on the (B2B or B2C) customer remained essentially schematic — because there was then no way to aggregate data about individual customers at scale.

That’s not the case any more, in principle at least. In principle — just to emphasize that again — US brands are sitting on mountains of first-party and probabilistic data about their customers: What they buy, what they read, where they are, when they’re responsive, and so on (it’s not necessarily the case outside the US, for privacy reasons). Of course, for many brands, the data is still spread across silos, is unreliable, or remains unactionable because they lack the right tools.

But does the potential created by this data for 1:1 relationships make the very idea of concepts passé?  Let us know: We’ll publish any interesting thoughts here.

And speaking of that individual customer experience, we just received a new study by Zebra Technologies which shows a surprising interest in IoT technologies among retail brands. According to the report:

  • Almost 70% of retail decision-makers are ready to adopt IoT technologies
  • 78% already understand the importance of integrating eCommerce and in-store experiences
  • By 2021, fully 80% expect to know when a specific customer is in-store through location intelligence
  • Also by 2021, 75% anticipate investing in predictive analytics for outcomes such as price optimization

Looks like within the next five years, it won’t much matter to consumers whether they’re shopping in a store, on a desktop, on their phone — or on whichever other device has been universally adopted by then.

But the new world of digital retail won’t turn out like this.  Really.

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