The Blog

I want to see things I don't like

I had lunch with @robertjoseph last week and something he said sparked a concern. He suggested that the way social media and segmentation is going, we could all end up even more homogenised than before. This worries me, and has real implications for marketers and PRs, because this homogenisation of groups will lead to polarisation and fragmentation of audiences.

I’m not talking about the digitally-saavy vs the digitally-illiterate (although that too is an on-going issue being worked on by such gurus as Martha Lane-Fox). I’m talking about the whole “people like you like things like this” personalisation of the digital media experience so that you are increasingly only exposed to things that ‘they’ (Google, brands, media owners, SEOs) think are relevant to you and that you will like.

Surely this will be like drinking the same wine every day? I love zinfandel, but I wouldn’t want to drink it day in day out. Variety is the spice of life. My concern is that everyone is going to be assigned to character bubbles, and then by being continually exposed to the same digital content will gradually slide into the centre of that bubble. This will form groups of like-minded people living in digital comfort zones, but quite far removed from the other groups.

The implications for PRs and marketers are not yet that obvious. It’s great to be able to closely target your own, defined, target consumer but isn’t there a danger of over-personalisation?

Half the fun of the internet is to discover new things. As individuals, we have got to make it work for us instead of simply allowing it to bring us it’s version of our world.  As marketers, yes we have to target the most obvious groups but let’s also remember we need to get to new audiences and bring them to us. Over-personalisation will make this very hard – they won’t see our messages unless we pay for someone to show them to them.

How about an anti-personalisation app that purposefully feeds you information that you wouldn’t normally come across?

Posted by Chris


I couldn't agree more

Great post Chris. I couldn't agree more, many Adwords advertisers are going all out with the Adwords re-marketing feature. I'm seeing the same ads all over the web for sites I visit. I fear too much exposure could be damaging to some brands. I think they could make much better use of the frequency capping feature and save some their advertising budget and let me see things I wouldn't normally come across.

Adrian McLean.

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