As the Internet expands to more ‘Things’, consumer adoption hinges on experience optimisation | M&M Global

As the Internet expands to more ‘Things’, consumer adoption hinges on experience optimisation

Michael Kahn, CEO of Performics Worldwide and Performance Global Practice Lead at Publicis Media reports from this week’s CES 2017 technology show in Las Vegas.

Michael Kahn, CEO, Performics Worldwide and Performance Global Practice Lead, Publicis Media
Michael Kahn, CEO, Performics Worldwide and Performance Global Practice Lead, Publicis MediaCES

At CES 2017, the lines between the digital and physical worlds continue to blur. Emerging tech like voice assistants, smart homes, smart cars, wearables and connected TVs are already transforming our lives in amazing ways. And just about every physical ‘thing’—from toothbrushes to tennis rackets—can now incorporate the power of the Internet, a major CES trend over the past few years.

But there’s also a slew of consumer trends that may limit adoption of this new Internet of Things (IOT) technology. Experiencing digital fatigue, consumers are now weighing the great utility of the Internet against its threats, like privacy intrusion and hacking.

Consumers have major concerns around data collection processes and Internet privacy. In fact, 90% of US Gen Xers find it ‘creepy’ when websites know information about them (Performics and Northwestern University’s Intent Lab Digital Satisfaction Index, Q4 2016).

At the same time, consumers are relinquishing trust in the Internet. 44% of Americans get their news from social media (Pew Research, 2016), but what can we believe? Thanks to fake news, some consumers have put up a digital wall, while others have lost trust in most everything they see online.

And as more things become Internet-connected, we’re moving closer to a world where—in virtually every moment—consumers can be flooded with digital experiences, including ads. These experiences can be enabling and empowering, or they can be intrusive and annoying. Consumers have already lost patience for the latter, with ad blocking growing 34% in the US in 2016 (eMarketer, 2016).

Privacy, trust and relevant and enabling experiences are critical for brands to succeed on today’s Internet. They’ll be even more essential for the IOT, which will be deeply embedded into our physical lives—in our cars, in our homes and on our bodies.

According to the Intent Lab Digital Satisfaction Index, which identifies the drivers of digital consumer satisfaction, utility—the usefulness of sites and apps—is by far the most important influencer of digital satisfaction. 80% of consumers said that being online helps them to get things done. IOT adoption will hinge on utility, as consumers will ask, “Does the utility of this Internet-connected thing outweigh its potential threats?”

As we look ahead to this future, what can marketers do to create consumer comfort and accelerate the adoption of all the new Internet-connected things across the CES floors?

CES 2017 kicked off earlier this week (Photo: CES)
CES 2017 kicked off earlier this week (Photo: CES)

Experience Optimisation in the IOT

Looking at the IOT at CES, the first thing that comes to mind (certainly for advertisers and, now, for many consumers) is the potential for data collection. The IOT creates a massive volume of new consumer data points—what people say to in-home voice assistants, what’s on their TV, what’s in the fridge—that can be leveraged to target, personalize and optimise advertising.

All advertising, including TV and out-of-home, is becoming digital and programmatic, opening the ability for advertisers to create hyper-personalized experiences across channels and devices.  Data from ‘things’— for example, very personal data associated with how people live their daily lives—can enable even more personalisation, which, if done correctly, could not only empower consumers, but also drive performance for advertisers.

As brands gain access to IOT data, consumer experience will be under a microscope like never before.  Going forward, brands should do the following.

Recognise that privacy and trust can be a deal breaker

Discomfort around personal data collection polices is clearly a barrier for consumers right now. And as the Internet further permeates our physical lives, all brands should consider implementing privacy safeguards, including cookie-opt in consent, visible informational content around data collection policies and safe-site options.

Focus on satisfaction

As the IOT expands, brands will certainly have more opportunities to engage consumers. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers always want to be engaged, especially in their homes and cars. To fulfill the needs and expectations of consumers during their moments of intent, marketers must deliver experiences that are efficient, safe and empowering. If your audience isn’t satisfied with an experience, they have tools at their disposal to block or avoid your message.

Prioritise mindset over identity

Hyper-personalisation, powered by IOT data associated with consumer identities, can have its downsides. To illustrate, hyper-personalisation only allows consumers to see content from within the ‘bubbles’ they’ve made for themselves, perhaps creating a false lens on the world or limiting discovery.

To prevent this, don’t think about your consumer ‘targets’ as fixed identities. A person’s identity doesn’t change, but their mindset is constantly changing.  Most brands personalise to identities, while they should really be personalising to mindsets. What’s relevant for the same consumer today may not be relevant at all tomorrow, when she’s in a different mindset.

For all these amazing CES IOT technologies to scale, we must combat digital fatigue and mistrust—and drive performance—by putting customer experience at the centre.

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