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What Should Brands Do with Intimate Data?

A recent AdAge article describes the Internet of Things as: “An age of small sensors everywhere and a world of continuous interconnectivity and environments that respond intelligently to our every move.” It’s smartphone-meets-smart-home-meets-smart-car-meets-smart-TV-meets-smart-washing-machine- meets-smart-vacuum-cleaner.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has already begun and aside from making our lives even easier and more glamorous than they already are, the IoT brings with it an onslaught of highly personal data. In this article, we’ll discuss this intimate data, how it’s poised to impact the advertising world and why having access to that data alone isn’t enough to ensure marketing success.

Data Gets Sexy

We’ve been hearing about big data for a few years now. But intimate data? Now that’s a more trendy phrase. Intimate data is the abundance of new data points arising from the Internet of Things: when and where and how long you worked out from your Fitbit®, what’s on your calendar for today from your smart watch, how you cooked your eggs this morning from your smart oven, and on and on.

With the rise of intimate data, marketing experts are predicting a shift from not just buying audiences or even individuals, but, instead, buying individuals at a specific moment in time. That means targeting a runner as soon as her shoes log 400 miles or flagging a running-on-empty electric vehicle that your store offers free charging stations while they shop.

Programmatic advertising is a clear example of how we’re already moving in this direction. Programmatic allows brands to buy ad space in real-time, targeting individuals instead of demographics and websites. Rather than creating an ad for women between the ages of 24 and 35 who are looking at dress shoes online, you can instead create an ad for the woman who’s looking at the exact dress shoes you’re selling right now.

There’s still much concern over how marketers will use the oncoming influx of intimate data. As stated by Fern Miller (chief strategy and insight officer for DigitalsLBi) in an article for UK’s Marketing Magazine, “During the past two decades, our access to useful information about people’s lives has, arguably, accelerated faster than our successful use of that information to improve them.”

Her concern is not unique; many argue that as we’re able to get closer and closer to targeting exactly the right person at exactly the right moment, we’ve become lazier – and dumber – about what we say to them.

Ultimately, with the great power of intimate data comes the great responsibility of putting it to good use.

Good Creative Still Reigns

You’ve probably heard that Disney offers digital wristbands called MagicBands that allow patrons to get “FastPass” access to rides and experiences they’ve preselected online. This limits the amount of time spent in the queue and improves the overall customer experience.

But as part of registering for said MagicBands, Disney is able to acquire some intimate data of its own, like patron names and ages, perhaps even the reason for their trips. Now the real magic is what Disney does with that data. Using the MagicBands as an intimate data delivery system, Snow White is able to wish a little girl “Happy Birthday,” (by name!) when she greets her. Pretty magical and unforgettable.

We’ve moved far beyond dropping a recipient’s name into an email subject line or even creating banner ads that show three items you just looked at online. The brands that will succeed in the era of intimate data are the ones that will combine analytics, strategy and creative genius to speak to consumers, well, intimately. The ones that create intimate moments between brands and individuals – the way Disney has done with MagicBands – are the ones that will truly reap the benefits of intimate data.

Intimacy is a two-way street. The data may be paving the way. But good creative strategy is what will drive brands forward.

For more information on The Brandon Agency’s digital marketing capabilities, give us a shout and we’d love to talk!