Marketers have been trying to capture that magic moment when a potential consumer is actually looking to interact with their brand. Back in the day, we had to rely on “inferred interests” gathered from demographics, psychographics and other data to estimate what segments might have higher-than-average propensity to have that interest and then broadcast various messages at them, hoping we just might hit them at the right place and at the right time.
But in the past five years, things have dramatically changed. With nearly ubiquitous smartphone coverage, we finally have a way to access consumers’ mind-sets at almost any time in a meaningful way. What’s more, not only can we tap into each magic moment, but consumers actually want to participate in it, too.
Current smartphone technology allows for nearly infinitely granular targeting based on behavior, third-party data, contextual data such as location, and universal sign-in profiles. All of these bits of information increasingly serve as relevant interactions to follow a consumer across apps and the mobile Web, all while waiting for the right moment. It’s an interesting approach; however, this is not what I am talking about. This is just a refinement of existing approaches to targeting. It’s nothing new.
What I’m talking about is giving consumers control with a tool that enables them to quickly and easily learn something about a specific product or service. I’m advocating using our smartphones to create intuitive gateways that bridge the real world with related digital experiences. Whether it’s called Web 3.0 or the “Internet of things,” this is what mobile is all about, and I foresee visual recognition technology playing a key role in making it happen.
Google Glasses are already showing us ways in which visual recognition and augmented reality can be combined to provide a dizzying array of overlays and information. This beta product offers an exciting peek into one vision of what might be in store for marketers and consumers alike.
Other companies like smartsy are showing a more targeted approach to visual recognition, enabling consumers to use devices they already have and apps they already use to interact with the world in specific ways. They let consumers snap a picture of whatever they are interested in, be it a can of Coke or a Louis Vuitton bag, with any visual recognition app on their mobile device and interact with the brand in real time.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, but they share the common goal of creating customer engagement. Ideally, if you want to tap into what a consumer is doing with your brand as well as when and where they interact with it, you should embrace letting them use visual recognition in different ways. Who’s to say which method is likely to work best? It’s still in the early days of visual recognition, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you think visual recognition is going to play a role in consumers’ lives and marketers’ strategies.
Paul Dunay is an award-winning B2B marketing expert with more than 20 years’ success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology, consumer products, financial services and professional services organizations. He is the Global Vice President of Marketing for Maxymiser, a leader in web optimization and analytics, and author of five “Dummies” books:Facebook Marketing for Dummies, Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies, Facebook Advertising for Dummies, Facebook Marketing for Dummies 2nd Edition and Facebook Marketing for Dummies 3rd Edition .
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