People Based Marketing – We’ve been here before

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At first glance, people based marketing seems to be a relatively recent innovation. Facebook invented the term just 3 years ago as a description of how data from CRM systems could be matched with Facebook accounts to target people directly. People based marketing has now grown in meaning to describe both the targeting and measurement of individuals across any channel.

The language used to describe these new advertising methods continues to evolve, however, the core concept of people based marketing goes back a very long way – the aim of engaging individuals with offers relevant to them specifically, based on what you know about them. If you strip away the technical complexities of today’s people based marketing its relationship to long-established marketing best practice becomes clear.

In essence, advertising has always been focused on connecting with people in ways that build love for a brand. The earliest store owners knew their customers by name. They knew everything from the customer’s demographics and intent through to their purchase history. If the store owners had a great memory, these insights were used to great effect, with delighted customers feeling very valued. The evolution of marketing over the years has been an effort to replicate and scale this experience across an ever-expanding number of touchpoints. Marketing has always been fundamentally ‘people-based’. The rise of accessible mailing and phone lists enabled direct mail marketing and telemarketing to soar in the 1960s, which in turn gave birth to the term ‘direct marketing’. In the digital era of the early 1990s, CRM became popular as a strategy for using customer’s data to drive 1-on-1 interactions, and new channels emerged with email and cookies.

Although search and banner ads also appeared in the 1990s, people based marketing on these channels wasn’t yet possible. For over a decade, cookies were stretched well beyond their intended purpose, serving up a crude, device-based mechanism for targeting and measurement. A new generation of digital marketers emerged who had to accept using cookies as a proxy for the individuals they wanted to reach. But improvements were on the horizon.

Database companies created the 1st models for people based digital marketing in 2009. These models were used across social media, online music services, and internet publishers that had high volumes of users that logged into their websites. Mobile Advertising IDs then brought targeting possibilities to the world of apps. It became common practice to import data from CRM systems into the programmatic ecosystem. People based marketing across digital campaigns was now in full flight.

The historical context of advertising helps us to better understand today’s people based marketing. Yes, you could argue it is a new phenomenon, but on the other hand, it’s simply a new name for marketing practices that have been around for decades – using knowledge and platforms to engage real people with relevant offers. The main difference is that today it is available on a much greater scale than ever before.

Karl has over 10 years of digital experience working both home and abroad. He has worked on hundreds of digital advertising campaigns over the years and has a lot of experience working alongside businesses to understand their needs, developing strategies, and implementing campaigns that bring results.

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