The Future of Marketing: Contextual Advertising

I recently had the pleasure to witness the neuromarketing expert Martin Lindstorm on the UBA Trendsday. After doing some more research and ordering his best seller book, it turns out he actually invented the word ‘contextual advertising’, I bumped into this interview about the Future trends in marketing.

Find below the main takeaways:

 

Contextual advertising to the extreme

When Lindstrom predicted this trend fifteen years ago, he envisaged the idea of walking in the streets and receiving a message that is 100% contextual to that moment and place. He actually experienced this himself in Japan, where he was walking down the streets and received a message from the Starbucks chatbot saying “Martin, one of your friends is in the area, would you like to meet him?” He clicked yes, and the conversation continued: “You can meet your friends at the nearest Starbucks, where you’ll be offered a free cup of coffee”. So he clicked yes again, and found himself on his way to the nearest Starbucks to meet his friend. This shows contextual branding is all about sending the right message to the right audience at the right time.
Obviously this is happening online as well, where brands are nowadays able to change the content of their home page depending on your recent behaviour, not necessarily with your permission. Let’s assume you’re a parent, so you’re reading babyblogs and buying baby stuff. Just before you enter a brand’s website, literally in just a split second, this information is passed onto the brand, which will load an entirely customized homepage around your area of interest. Since you are a parent, it will be all about babies.
For many brands this sounds like science fiction, but it’s a new reality, and in the future everything will be contextual. When you’re walking around in a supermarket, your attractiveness for advertisers and products will be predicted based on your Facebook or Google profile. Your profile data allows the supermarket to customize your experience. For example, you will notice that the prices for pampers are surprisingly low for you because you happen to be qualified as a micro-influencer.
Whether or not this scenario is ethical and GDPR compliant is of course another question.

 

Everything will become a game

Lindstorm believes gaming will become omnipresent. We see it already today with doctors training for complex operations via computer games, he argues. The entire US military is basically trained on computer games, and we see it coming to schools too under the form of e-learning. Toddlers are learning by playing smart games.
Let’s say a car brand wants its customers to start driving in a more economic & environmental friendly way. Instead of sensibilisation campaigns saying “you have to care about the environment”, they are now introducing a game. Ford for example added a ‘flower plant’ icon in their dashboard. If you’re driving at a smooth desirable pace the plant is growing and gets flowers over time. But if you drive agressive the plant shrinks, or even dies. It’s amazing to see how many people are affected by this game, some are even obsessed with the plant. This line of thought can applied to other industries as well: think about toothbrushes rewarding you with points or public transport, where if you take the bus, the government gives you points to be redeemed with your tax returns.
Speaking from my own experience at Stampix I can only confirm these trends. Firstly, we strive to make a 100% match between the photo & the advertiser’s message, hence making it more contextual & relevant. Secondly, we discovered the helpfullness of gaming elements to increase conversion – thanks to the loyalty programs Stampix is integrated in. For example, MediaMarkt rewarded all contest participants – even those who did not win anything – with free prints. KBC K’Ching asked people to solve a little puzzle before granting a printcode. Other brands let their audience engage with brand-related content during the online process, see an example for Granini below.
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