Marketers are like 17yr old boys

Yes. That’s right. When it comes to using personalization and targeting, marketers have been likened to 17 year old virgins rushing to get into a girl’s pants. Often, brands get so excited about the technology that they don’t think through the proper way to use it or how it might impact the long term relationship. Marketing’s use of consumer personalization, just like a love relationship, requires time to build trust and intimacy between the two parties to be done right. If any one party is forced into it too early or that trust is broken, the relationship is over immediately.

The panel today on “How to personalize without being creepy” did a great job in debating how wonderful personalization is to a user, as well as how creepy it can turn out to be.

Overall takeaways:

– Life is too short to see a generic website; personalization is great.

– Privacy is a set of expectations — if you’re designing your product understanding those expectations upfront and developing trust over time, the user will be more open and comfortable with the backend tracking/data that allows personalization.

– Product Designers need to make opting out easier. For example, you don’t build a building without emergency exits or else no one would go in.

– Certain products, like Foursquare, allow for an easy upfront understanding with what the company does with your data; other products (j.e. ad networks) are less easy to explain to the everyday consumer on how their data is being used. We still need to figure out how to make that clearer while educating the consumer on the benefits.

– The Ad industry has a major problem with ad networks. Ad Network surveillance = creepy.

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