Targeting the Mobile Shopper: What’s Creepy?

by Net Future Institute on January 24, 2013

As more consumers use their smartphones and tablets while they shop, more marketers are going to try to reach them to help influence what they buy.

Speaking earlier today at MediaPost’s OMMA data-driven marketing conference, a Macy’s executive referred to the perceived “creepy” factor in online behavioral advertising and suggested that attendees try to reframe the discussion so that people no longer focus on the creepy factor the media has emphasized in a negative way. She suggested that marketers focus on how they remove clutter from a consumer’s life.

The reality is that the creepy factor in mobile commerce is still in its infancy.

Research shows that in-store shoppers search the retailer’s website while they shop. When they receive an ad relative to what they’re shopping for, some people may consider it to be a valued service, while others may consider it an intrusive promotion as they attempt to make a considered purchase.

There are many associated issues around targeting of mobile shoppers. A few examples:

  • When a mobile shopper searches the retailer’s website and receives an ad based on their last social media discussion with friends, how will they view it?
  • As more sales associates are equipped with mobile devices to roam the aisles in search of customers to assist, what customer information will they access on those screens and which customers will care?
  • Will pinging a customer with an offer as they pass a certain product be viewed as creepy or valued? Some grocery stores already do this, by offering coupons on products in close proximity to where a shopper just scanned one.

Technology like Square Wallet already is in place to let a person at checkout know you are in the store, nearby and ready to pay, just by tapping your phone.

I’d be very interested in any examples you would view as either creepy or highly valued in mobile commerce. What would you see as most creepy?



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