In the 1982 sci-fi classic Tron, computer whizzkid Kevin Flynn discovers that his company’s Master Control Program (MCP) has expanded into powerful virtual intelligence.
Hungry for power, the MCP is illegally downloading personal, business, and government programs and information to increase its own capabilities.
As Flynn confronts the data-guzzling antagonist, MCP uses an experimental laser to digitize and download Flynn into cyberspace, where programs are living entities appearing in the likeness of the human “Users” (programmers) who created them.
Almost 40 years on from Tron’s debut, Disney has confirmed that a new film in the cult series is in the works. But this time it depicts a world that will be much more familiar — especially for marketers.
With over 4.5bn active internet users, cyberspace is a much busier place these days. Marketers could be forgiven for sometimes feeling much like Kevin Flynn themselves, launching themselves into the matrix and attempting to reach the right user profiles for their brands.
In such a crowded digital space, it can be tough for the right person to find your message. That’s why every message must be personally tailored to the user you are looking for. Personalization is a vital weapon in marketing — research shows that 72 percent of customers will only engage with marketing messages that are personalized — but in order to personalize effectively, marketers must have clear digital identities of their target audience.
Data naturally shapes the formation of these digital profiles. But as we move to a post-cookie world, how we build these profiles is changing. Google has set a date of 2022 for the third-party cookie’s final execution — meaning marketers have two years to prepare for a cookie-less future.
So how can marketers continue to deliver the personalized communications that consumers have come to expect?
The answer lies in ethically sourced consumer data that builds and anonymizes profiles, enshrining transparency and consumer privacy at the heart of the operation — meaning marketers no longer chase customers around the internet with retargeted ads, but openly communicate what their data is being used for and how, providing value in terms of relevancy in return.
In the era of GDPR, only those businesses with ethical practices at the heart of the operation stand a chance of driving effective personalized content in a way that genuinely connects with people, rather than creeps them out.
However, even without Flynn running amok, cyberspace is a busy and fragmented place. To build a clear profile that they can create relevant advertising for, marketers need to understand the relationships between points of data across all touchpoints — from Alexa to iPads.
These relationships paint a valuable picture of the consumer that marketers can use to deliver a message personalized to resonate with them. Understanding that these relationships hold the key is fundamental in moving from a cookie-based marketing strategy, to an identity-driven one.
Building profiles — or verified identities — takes a series of data points and layers them on top of first-party data. Advertisers can then link these back to a single person’s profile, using persistent identifiers (such as hashed email addresses) to ensure that these are groups of real people. This is called an identity graph, and it allows marketers to mix and match the data sets they need for their target customer group.
In 1982, watching Kevin Flynn battle alongside digital profiles of “Users” in cyberspace transported us to a world of sci-fi-fantasy. Today, the world of Tron is a cautionary tale for marketers looking to get to grips with the digital world. Although we may not need or want to be zapped through a webcam into cyberspace, we all operate in a busy digital landscape every day.
And to reach the right people and achieve the best results, we need to ensure we’re building accurate data identities that reach people with a message that is meant just for them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and CTO, ADARA