Connected, portable devices place a layer of digital information onto the world around us, pulling data from the web to inform our surroundings and feeding back into our clicks and actions. Social, personal, behavioral, location-based, and mass-aggregate data combine to build taste graphs that can help us discover great new restaurants, track down nearby events, or find local discounts. The future promise is that advertising will be more like matchmaking: our smartphones will deliver customized information to anticipate our needs, closing the loop from desire to discovery to purchase.
Seamless Targeting and Redemption
Our credit card statements contain a vast store of data about our shopping preferences, but up until now, deal targeting based on personal purchasing history has been limited by infrastructure and the fear of appearing intrusive. Now, in the name of convenience, third-party apps are offering services that allow consumers to voluntarily connect their credit card activity with mobile offers. Mobile integration makes deal redemption and tracking easier and reduces barriers to adoption for users and merchants.
• Bank of America is launching BankAmeriDeals, an online service that will send customers discounts based on their spending history. It’s powered by Cardlytics, a service that has partnered with 320 financial institutions to deliver relevant rewards and advertising based on individual consumer shopping behavior. The service reaches 75 million American households (as of August 2012).
• Citibank Singapore has launched the Clear Platinum Card, which allows users to collect and apply reward points online through retail outlets and via the associated Facebook mobile app, Clear.24.7. Users enjoy personalized offers and vote on which discount will be the “Clear Deal of the Month.”
Real-Time Mobile Deals
Location-based networks like Foursquare are becoming more compelling as consumers find that sharing their location and their favorite establishments helps them receive personalized, local discounts. The “taste graph” generated by this activity is a data goldmine, which will become more valuable as algorithms improve and as scale of user and merchant participation is reached.
• Foodspotting, the community of food enthusiasts who snap, share, and browse images of dishes served at nearby restaurants, has seen 3 million downloads (as of July 2012). Venues can offer deals that appear in a user’s feed and are based on relevance and proximity. Now US users can act on the desire to indulge in a delicious burger as seen on Foodspotting, thanks to integration with reservation service OpenTable and delivery service GrubHub. Foursquare — which also serves as a local food discovery engine — has partnered with OpenTable as well.
• Shopkick, an app that bridges the physical and mobile experience by offering users in-store deals, attracted 6.5 million unique visitors who spent an average of 3.19 minutes on the site in June 2012, according to Nielsen. The app has been on a roll, driving foot traffic and partnering with dozens of retailers including Macy’s, Target, Old Navy, Toys“R”Us, and American Eagle Outfitters. A recent partnership has MasterCard members registering their cards online to receive additional rewards (kicks) when they check out at participating stores.
Share and Discover Products
Consumers are discovering new products through their social networks, and a range of start-ups and e-commerce leaders are working to close the loop between exploration, recommendation, discovery, and transaction.
• Pose lets users snap photos of apparel and accessories while shopping, tag them with the price and store location, and then share them with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and the Pose community. They can even shop right within the app. Snapette, Go Try It On, and Fashism are competitors in this start-up category.
• Flipboard’s iPad app made browsing social media feeds and magazines a lot more attractive. Now it is doing the same thing for e-commerce sites. Gilt Taste, Gilt’s food and wine division, was the first catalogue to arrive on Flipboard. Readers can view artful photographs of products, flip through pages with their fingers as if they were reading a magazine, and then make purchases from Gilt without leaving the Flipboard app. Flipboard created a new digital magazine-like ad for Levi’s that appeared in the feeds of Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Details, Elle, Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, Marie Claire, Glamour, and Fast Company. The new ad treatment will give readers access to a Levi’s-branded social media brand hub with a built-in e-commerce app.