Market research-facilitated targeted ads coming to a smartphone near you

DECEMBER 8, 2011 – Market research has become a prime asset to targeted marketing campaigns, in the development stages as well as in the ongoing measurement of how a campaign is performing.

AdWeek reports that one program, Sonic Notify, has been developed to help smartphone applications avoid the fate that so many succumb to: A consumer downloads an app (which offers plenty of marketing opportunities) then promptly forgets about it. According to the source, the program will pick up signals tracking devices installed in stores’ shelves, and when a person walks past a particular product, he or she will receive ads, messages and other materials relevant to that item.

The technology is based on a bus-tracking tool, and picks up inaudible audio codes sent out by the beacons. The code only works if a person has downloaded an app that integrates the program, but there are many more possibilities, the magazine says.

“In-store, the system could alert shoppers to special promos,” AdWeek explains. “At home, it could provide interactive content cued to TV shows. It could even have uses for live concerts and sports events.”

Already, consumers are warming up to the idea of mobile shopping applications, according to Experian’s PriceGrabbber. A holiday survey found that 39 percent of respondents have downloaded shopping-related applications on their smartphones, outnumbering the 26 percent who don’t have the apps and the 35 percent who don’t own smartphones at all. Out of those who do use the apps, 84 percent said they planned to save money by using them during their holiday shopping trips.

Comparison-shopping, coupon and price-check applications were among the most popular tools named by consumers.

Graham Jones, the general manager of PriceGrabber, said that based on the findings, the company expected “that shoppers will stay on top of last-minute incentives and price drops that are certainly on the horizon in the coming weeks via the internet and mobile shopping applications.”

He also noted that considering the strong sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, “we aren’t surprised to see a meaningful percentage of consumers planning to spur retailers with another round of shopping closer to Christmas.”

However, companies will still need to be sensitive to consumers’ preferences for being targeted by advertisements. A study from Featurespace and YouGov found that British consumers typically see the tailored marketing efforts as irrelevant and impersonal, and that even when the attempts do resonate with an audience, there are not many conversions.

Out of the survey of 2,057 British consumers, 82 percent said at least half of the targeted marketing they get is spam, and 54 percent see the ads as “mistargeted: presented to them at the wrong time with irrelevant offers or promotions.”

Additionally, just 42 percent of respondents indicated that relevant targeted marketing material would actually make them more likely to purchase an item. The researchers said this figure shows marketers that they are wasting a “huge proportion” of their ad budgets on consumers who will probably never be engaged by their promotions or communications.

“Evidently, traditional methods of insight are insufficient to build reliable understanding of customer motivation and allow pinpoint targeting,” stated David Excell, founder and CEO of Featurespace. “Deeper, granular, personalized insight which is constantly updated in real time is required to create and maintain a true picture of every customer.”

He also noted that while businesses need to conduct market research to determine what their consumers really want, they must also be capable of quickly turning around that insight and acting upon it.