If you haven’t heard this latest buzz phrase yet, you’re missing out. “ Personalised marketing at scale ” might be fast becoming the newest digital marketing trend, but far from being a throw-away gimmick, it represents a new way of thinking that will permanently transform our media approach.

In essence, it’s the ability to reach different consumers with different creative messages, rather than having to have a single TV advert that everyone sees. It means you can subtly tailor your executions based on demographics, interests, location or even purchase history, reaching millions of consumers but each with something that seems personally relevant and interesting. The tweaks can be subtle, like different copy or video thumbnails, or can be more dramatic – brands could for instance position themselves entirely differently to excite teenagers versus the parental audience who might actually be the ultimate purchasers.

The Cadbury Facebook page is a good example of this – looking at it you’ll sometimes see a cheeky Creme Egg update next to a family friendly suggestion of a craft activity to do with their Egg’n’Spoon product. To the untrained eye it can look a little contradictory, but using media targeting the brand can actually make sure that millions of different people are seeing the respective posts – or dozens of other iterations which may not ever be publicly shared on the page. Coca Cola segmented the US Facebook population for its 2014 Super Bowl advert, reaching different groups of consumers with the same video but a different thumbnail and copy tailored to their interests and demographics. The big issue to watch out for in all of this is ensuring that however detailed you go with your targeting, you still ladder up to an overall significant level of reach.

It’s early days and we’re only beginning to see evidence that this added personalisation adds value, but on a micro level it’s immediately obvious. Think of your own social feeds or email inbox – you’re much more likely to pay attention to updates that are relevant to you whilst you’ll probably get annoyed when something invasive, irrelevant and totally spammy pops up. The effect is magnified on your mobile phone – we’re all used to sharing TVs and computers and seeing relatively generic messages there, but a mobile is a very personal space and anything not relevant to who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing feels out of place. The impact on digital actions – engagement – is immediate and positive, although as these do not ultimately correlate with sales or ROI, that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of proving the value.

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