Opinion: Consumers can call the shots in ad relationships

A few weeks ago US venture capitalist Bill Gross - backed by home-shopping tycoon Barry Diller - got himself a lot of publicity by offering free PCs with free internet access in return for the right to display advertising on the screen.

A few weeks ago US venture capitalist Bill Gross - backed by

home-shopping tycoon Barry Diller - got himself a lot of publicity by

offering free PCs with free internet access in return for the right to

display advertising on the screen.



To get the PC, people have to fill out a questionnaire about their

income, tastes and education. On the face of it this looks like a great

marketing gimmick. But look a little deeper, and it could be one of

those seminal moments in company/consumer relationships. Why?



Because this becomes what could be called permission marketing:

companies have to get an agreement from individuals to look at the

advertising.



What this shows is just how dynamics of the marketplace are

changing.



Consumers can easily operate in an ad-free zone. It’s not just about

zapping past the television ads: they are increasingly voting with their

feet across the board.



Over 450,000 of them in the UK have joined the Mailing Preference

Service to stop unwanted direct mail. About 350,000 of them have signed

on to the parallel telephone scheme.



But it gets worse for marketers. Not only can individuals choose what

they want to be told about, but they realise that when they do allow

themselves to be marketed to, any information they give in return about

themselves has realisable value. Yet what do most companies currently

offer customers in exchange for information?



An avalanche of unwanted mail. Some discounts on their shopping - spend

pounds 100 and save pounds 1 - a magazine that looks like every other, a

small - read cheap - gift.



That’s why the free PC is so clever. Even if this venture doesn’t take

off - although more than a million people have applied for one - no

marketer can ignore it.



It’s what one-to-one guru Don Peppers calls an explicit bargain: people

know what they are getting into in being exposed to advertising and give

their permission.



Even more compelling is the way the company uses the thorny issue of

privacy as a prominent part of the deal. It promises that no one,

including the advertisers, will be able to identify any individual,

although they will know, for example, if someone is looking for a new

car.



This turns the one-sided deals most companies offer into a true

relationship, with loyalty given and accepted on both sides. It

acknowledges that information is critical and valuable, and that it will

be treated with care.



This is attractive: a recent survey conducted in the US shows that

Americans are becoming far more concerned about the use of their private

information, with eight in ten respondents believing that they have lost

control over how companies collect and use their personal data.



US consumers want to know about products they are interested in. What

they don’t want is to be hit by an avalanche of ’rewards’ that bear

little relevance to them.



Consumer goods companies were always seen as the universities of

marketing.



Nowadays they could learn a lot from those in business-to-business

marketing.



In business, it’s no longer a question of ’I want to buy and you sell to

me after we have haggled about the price’. Instead, it’s about acting as

partners for mutual benefit.



This will be a very hard lesson for all those marketers



who want to pay lip-service to issues of customer satisfaction and

loyalty without honouring their side of the deal. But it’s one that they

are going to have to learn.



Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers