So what is personalisation at scale? And is it right for your brand?

Personalisation at scale means having millions of relevant, one to one conversations all at the same time. In its purist articulation, every conversation is timely, useful and personalised – eliminating huge amounts of waste; and because this philosophy is delivered at scale, it also harnesses the power and reach enjoyed by broadcast media. Advancements in technology, and the ability to harness ever increasing amounts of data are relentlessly driving this trend forward. Increasingly, all channels are becoming digital, addressable, and therefore connected.

So what’s the so what?

Remember the “Share a coke with” marketing campaign? Brilliantly simple. Just by putting my name on the bottle, it tasted better. I bought more, and my wife found me more attractive*

*This may be an exaggeration.

Probably like many of you, I waded through the chiller cabinet looking for a Coke bottle with my name on it

Dave…no… James… no… Gary…no…another Gary?! FFS Two Garys?!….. Why are there no Mikes and two Garys.?!! When I eventually found a “Mike” Coke bottle, it probably did taste better in my head, and I certainly remembered the campaign too, as it was more personalised to me (and Gary).

The team behind the campaign used their media and creative in a smart way to deliver a nice example of personalisation, integrated into the main marketing campaign.

When you watched content on channel 4 catch up (4oD / All4), the ad you were served before the content was personalised to you, with a bottle with your name on it. Which is a nice use of data and creative together, and certainly drove stand out from your average pre-roll ad. In terms of results, the ad recall was an impressive 71%. (source CH4).

But this is only the tip of the iceberg of what is possible today.

From an m/SIX perspective, one of our most exciting new tech developments is mPlatform. Because GroupM buy 1 in 3 ads globally, mPlatform has unprecedented access to huge amounts of audience insight. Added to this, mPlatform also includes valuable Wunderman and KANTAR data, all combined with state of the art technology which was 10 years in the making. Quite simply, mPlatform is able to use the vast quantities of data to create individual “mpIDs” which is a single consumer identifier – crucial for genuine personalisation. We believe this technology will give us deeper consumer insights and the most robust technology in the market.

There are also implications for creative with this philosophy.

Take one of my favourite campaign ideas – Nike #MakeItCount. This campaign would work brilliantly with a personalisation at scale model. It wouldn’t matter if you were Mo Farah going for an Olympic Gold medal, Eliud Kipchoge trying to break the 2 hour marathon barrier, a mum doing her first run since having a baby, someone just trying to lose weight or a runner going for a personal best. It works on all levels and you could see how great creative could really drive relevance.

But how many brands really have a creative idea that works on this many levels? Plus do all brands need one? Some brands may want to just say one thing well, plus there is a danger of being schizophrenic as a brand if done badly. Plus we must always also consider the cost of any 3rd party data or any tech costs. So looking at the cost per outcome for what you want to achieve is crucial – not just the cost of the media, data and tech.

But where we are going in the future is the Coke example times 1000.

Mark Zuckerberg at the recent F8 conference talked about a future where we will wear augmented reality contact lenses that overlay all kinds of information and digital objects in the real World, which would render smartphones and TV’s useless.

Just take a second to think about that.

A future where we are permanently connected and where there is no distinction between the real World and the digital World. No need for your trusty mobile because you are actually physically connected to the internet. Scary, but amazing stuff – And in terms of personalisation, the possibilities would be endless given the mind bending amount of data and targeting opportunities that would be created. Wearable tech data, location, entertainment, social, personal preferences – the list is pretty much endless.

Feels like a life time away? Bill Gate’s once said, “People over estimate what is possible in two years, but underestimate what is achievable in 10 years”. When you look at the resources the big tech companies have to achieve this goal it’s pretty sobering.

According to The Economist – Apple, Alphabet (Google) Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook have combined cash reserves of $330BILLION. Its predicted that by 2020 this will be in the region of $680 BILLION.

The scale of this is hard to fathom – Last year during the European Union election, people in the UK got excited about a bus with £350million on the side…

Add to this – their huge resources, the best talent, their combined intent, and the hugely competitive landscape – and few would bet against the tech companies or their peers achieving their lofty goals. It also makes you wonder whether that the political forces we vote for are shrinking in influence when compared to the big global tech companies. Indeed its quite telling that the 2017 election in the UK has / was largely waged on social platforms such as Facebook rather than traditional advertising.

Where we are going is a brave new World – and the speed we are getting there is pretty scary. We are at the start of an exciting journey rather than nearing the end, and today, we need to balance judgement, tried and tested tactics, as well as embracing the amazing array of opportunities around us.