Holy Grail of digital advertising on the horizon

Over the last decade, search went mainstream, social media became a game changer, programmatic nudged display to change its old ways, and mobiles and tablets changed the way we consume content. For the next decade, I'm willing to place my money on micro-targeting (popularly known as big data marketing and audience targeting).

Micro-targeting means personalizing ads based on age, sex, preferences, location, moods, daily activities, political inclination and a multitude of variables that are collected as you browse across devices. Any app or website that a user spends time on is a potential source of data. So, if you were browsing for holiday destinations, reviewed flight options, or searched for travel insurance, it's safe to assume that you may be planning a vacation.

Increased time spent online and technological advances such as big data processing and programmatic advertising tools are making micro-targeting possible. I look at it as the Holy Grail of digital advertising.

Micro-targeting is important because the spray and pray approach has proven horribly inefficient. In a hyper-localized world, one needs to get the right message to the right user at the right time, place and context. Micro-targeting is already forcing marketers to get out of the one size fits all approach.

In India, micro-targeting comes with its own unique set of challenges. Various studies suggest that in less than three years, more than half of our country is going to be digitally connected on a mobile, tablet, desktop or laptop. I see a gold mine of opportunities for smart, data-driven marketers on the horizon.

(Published in the issue of IMPACT magazine January, 2015)

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