Making advertising more personal and actionable

Sometimes a simple example makes things clear in your mind, particularly when it's your own money at stake! We've a long description of the whole advertising value chain and the telcos' role in it in our report, and two key operator assets are customer preferences and personal data. Here's a real world case study of putting that to effect.

I'm selling the flat (US readers: apartment) I bought ten years ago when young, free and single. We're moving into somewhere twice as big now there are four of us. A nice man came to put up a for sale sign outside last week. In fact, in windy Edinburgh this is an important skill, as signs poking out of buildings are prone to fly away with the next gust. I'd show you a picture, except I'm now 2000km away.

Anyhow, there's a bit down the bottom to send an SMS message to a short code for more details. Which I duly did, as faithfully recorded by Nokia Lifeblog:

Back come the property details:

(Sorry, no discount to Telco 2.0 readers.) Then along comes another SMS:

How many people bother at this point to triple-tap their email address? How many SMS inquiries aren't followed up because the person forgets the message by the time they get home? An email in their inbox with the images of our immaculately presented property with stunning views (but still no discount to Telco 2.0 readers, sorry) is worth a lot to me. If only for the moral satisfaction of them seeing the place not strewn with kids' toys for the first time in years.

The opportunity for an operator here is to capture the permission of the user to pass on returned emails when they initiate a short code message. No email address is ever given out, no spam is ever sent. This is data you already have for a large proportion of your subscribers.

Also, Edinburgh is a pretty international city with a very active financial services industry. My property is central -- walking distance from the registered offices of two of the worlds' largest banks. A fair few of the potential buyers will be non-UK residents. Wouldn't it be nice to address them in their own language based on known language preferences? You can kludge it if they're roaming and there's a country code in the caller ID, but it's a nasty mess.

This isn't the only such example. I was on the tube in London a few months back and one of the adverts was a promotion for pet food. (No, dearest daughter, you are NOT having a doggy, no matter how much you perfect the psychological warfare techniques.) Send us an SMS, and we'll give you a free sample.

You can already image the nightmare interaction of having to text flat number, house number and postcode in some obscure format, confirming the returned address, and so on. A telco is in such a sweet position to send your address straight to the post office or shipper (not the advertiser) and get the package routed to you. Why not go one better and do a deal with the Royal Mail to give everyone their own virtual PO box using their mobile number as a key that forwards the mail to you? Now that would be converged advertising in action.

Have a good idea about telcos and advertising? Why not share it with your industry peers at the Telco 2.0 Digital Advertising & Marketing Summit?