Posted by: thinkeak | September 27, 2009

Consumers be smart!

September 27, 2009
By Kristin A. Snyder

Consumers be smart!

Emerging media has opened new doors for marketers to target consumers and has created new avenues for consumer to find information as well as communicate with friends and companies. The new trends have challenged marketers to find new unique ways to grab and retain consumer’s attention. Traditional media alone is not enough to create brand awareness, relay product and pricing information in order to generate sales. Traditional media also does not allow companies to truly know its customers and their preference’s. Through new media marketers have the ability to know more then ever their consumers and their preference in addition to providing a way to directly correspond with them to communicate product information. Today’s market demands marketers to step up their game to use various forms of emerging media to the point that consumer privacy lines have become a topic of concern.

Individuals are willing to put their personal information on the web for public view on social networking sites, so is it wrong for advertisers to gain knowledge and insight from such information? If a consumer posts messages (ie: I’m looking to buy a new car – maybe the new Chevy Equinox) on Twitter or another social network which is open to the public, is it wrong for a company to respond to it (ie: New shipments of Equinox’s are in, special offers, let us know how we can help)? If it is on a public site and open to public viewing, then I say it is fair game!

Other areas that consumers may feel invaded are IP addresses and Search Engines. Consumer’s IP addresses can be cookied or web bugged then tracked in order to gain insight into preferences, wants, and needs basically creating a nameless user profile. This will show what sites they have visited and how much time was spent on particular sites allowing companies to target consumers based on relevant information. Advertisers will use this information to place banner ads reflecting those interests. For instance, maybe the consumer has searched various family vacation destinations sites, after that ads for Disney World will start appearing.

Finally, search engines are a users first stop in searching for web sites, images, news, blogs, maps, etc are highly targeted by advertisers. How? Search words and terms can also be bought so certain companies appear higher on the search results page. In addition, search engines can have sponsored areas where advertisers pay for placement like on Google. Note the top link is highlighted in pink and the far right is also separated with special notation that they are “sponsored links.”

Picture 5

Not all search engines denote what links are paid/sponsored and which are most popular. Google is currently the most popular search engine, perhaps in part because it does the best job in keeping lines clearly defined so consumers know what is paid advertising and what is not.

Consumers – be smart and don’t be insulted or feel like your privacy is invaded when you choose to send messages on a public forum. Just like product placement in TV shows, movies, entertainment venues, etc. advertisers are all over the web and have the right to be. After all they are trying to fulfill a need, want, desire that you have. Consumers today are smart and savvy, and need to be alert and responsible. Advertisers also need to maintain boundaries and use caution in diving into undefined new areas on the web. The last thing a smart brand wants to do is a make current or future customer angry. In the end, it is the consumers’ choice if he/she wants to further engage in contact with a brand, and a brands right to inform the buyer he/she has a choice.

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