PHD UK Cheat Sheet: Thoughts on the personalisation of data

Every few weeks a few of us at PHD London get together to chat about a media-related topic in the news, usually anchored to a piece of content. The output from these meetings is something we’re calling PHD Cheat Sheets and is essentially a quick roundup of our key thoughts.

At our first meeting last week, we discussed this article in TechCrunch about the growing trend of data personalisation.

There were quite a few threads in our discussion, mainly:

Scale – For anyone to engage in serious data personalisation, there must be a certain scale of data in the first place.

Ownership – Who owns personalised content? The content provider or the recipient?

The in-between space – The marketing industry typically has a very binary view of media; it’s either broadcast or personalised – there’s no discussion of the in-between space, which we need to learn more about.

Serendipity – Data personalisation discounts the role of serendipity for users. We discussed the example of the Pizza Express owner who used to be a banker – he chanced upon the Classifieds section of the paper one day where he saw an ad by someone who was selling a pizza franchise, took it on and built that into an empire. It’s also worth noting what Clay Shirky said about information overload and filter failure, and Eli Pariser on the filter bubble.

Data vs. culture – The TechCrunch article contends that we all need to be data companies in this day and age, but will a focus on data be achieved at the expense of giving up the chance to create culture? Will we start focussing on the past (actions people have taken online i.e clicks etc.) vs. focussing on the future (actions we’d like to influence). It’s worth thinking of Strawberry Frog’s Cultural Movement strategy.

Social within limits – Where does personalised (social) data stop being useful? Think of KLM’s Facebook app that allows people to select who they sit next to on a flight – which doesn’t really make sense because how often do you travel on the same flight with all your friends? There could indeed be instances when you’re booking tickets for a gig when you want to choose to sit next to your Facebook friends, but on the other hand if you’re going with your partner you don’t necessarily want to see them. People have different sides to them. We discussed how they don’t want brands to know all their sides, just the ones that are relevant.

Later on, Steve brought up this article on gravity and the web, which is worth reading. The phenomenon that everyone is discussing at the moment may not be the one that is right for your brand or campaign, just like the weak scientific ties of gravity which look stronger than they are.

Posted by Anjali Ramachandran (@anjali28)

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