Tag Archives: personalisation

Monetising customer data

This is the last post in the monetisation series. We’ve explored ten ways to monetise large digital audiences, from simple advertising to selling products. This post discusses ways of making money from data.

Data monetisation is one of the newest of all the models we’ve discussed in the series. And it’s probably the most misunderstood. When Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, it proved how valuable user data has become.

But customer data isn’t that new. The market for sales-leads data has been around for ages. The difference now is how that data is collected and ‘mined’. Data used to be scraped from public sources such as Companies House and Yellow Pages. Now companies are setup with the sole purpose of collecting information from users.

Continue reading Monetising customer data

How Radio has Defied the Media Revolution

radio-scaled1000We have a Spotify Premium account at home, mainly because we want to listen the tracks offline (such as in the car), and also because the freemium model limits the number of tracks available.

I really like Spotify – the PC and iPhone apps are both easy and no-nonsense to use. The quality is great, which is important because we have speakers wired around the house.

I read an article last week explaining that when ATM machines first arrived, it was assumed that the ATM would see the demise of high street bank branches. However, 45 years after the first ATM machine in the UK, we still have bank branches.

This got me thinking about music. The appearance of Internet services such as Spotify has seen all but the end of music shops in the high street, but we still listen to music radio stations. The media group which owns Heart, Capital, Classic FM, XFM, Choice, Gold and LBC boast an audience of over 19 million listeners per week.

Why do radio stations get such a large audience in the 21st century? I think there are a number of reasons:

  1. It’s free to listen to the radio
  2. There is a huge percentage of the population who only listen to the radio in the car, and who spend huge amounts of time in their car (such as commuting or as a professional driver)
  3. Radio stats are probably as extrapolated as TV audience figures
  4. Discovery.

I listen to the radio mainly for discovery. I like the radio playing a random song, or a brand new song, when its different to anything else I listen to.

The problem with Spotify and its equivalent ‘radio’ modes is that they are trying to find music that is similar to the music you already like. There are some basic algorithms in some music players, which try to determine whether you prefer groups, male or female singers and then play only those to you. Spotify provides a little wider coverage in its radio mode, but it still won’t play something as left-field as the FM radio channels.

In a world where we select what we want to watch, when we want to watch it, and which output channel we want to watch it on (web, phone, tablet, TV, etc.) – radio has defied the odds.

And long may it thrive.

Image by Sage Ross (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

2013 Digital Media predictions

In 2010, 2011 and 2012, I made some predictions about Digital Media in the following year, and in late December of each year I reviewed and scored them (here’s the results from 20102011 and 2012 Digital Media predictions).

Last year some work colleagues accused me of playing the predictions safe. Interestingly one of the predictions was about the share price of Akamai, yet they didn’t invest in the company despite my prediction about the price increasing…

So here are my 2013 Digital Media predictions:

1. Many, many new devices will be launched

We’re so used to hearing about Apple launching new devices that it’s easy to forget there are other vendors out there. In late 2013 we’ll see the new Xbox and Playstation arrive, and I expect they will be amazing. Remember how revolutionary the Wii controllers were? And then Kinect moved the game (no pun intended) on to show controller-less games. I expect the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony will improve upon Kinect – fasters response times and more playability.

I’ve been promoting 3D printers since 2010 http://blog.bradbox.com/the-real-3d and predicting that every year will be the year it becomes mainstream. In 2013 I really really really expect people will be buying them! You’ll be printing disposable cutlery, kids toys and anything else you can think of – all at home. Sites such as shapeways http://www.shapeways.com/ are already appearing with designs to download and print.

2. Yahoo! Makes! A! Comeback!|

Competition is always healthy, and the dominance of Facebook has been unhealthy in the last couple of years. The top photo sharing library, Instagram, was acquired up by Facebook and its charm of degrading photo quality all but disappeared in six months.

Step forward Marissa Mayer of Google fame (…how the world had underestimated how good a job she made of Google Maps until Apple tried it!). Yahoo!’s share price has increased 30% from $15 when she joined to almost $20. She’s spotted the power of Flickr (which I have always preferred for my personal photos and as a creative commons library for this blog).

I reckon Yahoo!’s share price will be at least $30 by the end of 2013 and we’ll see some quality innovation appearing from the company.

3. Microsoft to return

Messenging tools – Yammer, Skype, MSN Messenger, Lync. Office 2013. Windows 8. Surface. The new Xbox. Bing. Exchange 2013. Sharepoint 2013. Office 365. Skydrive. Azure. We think Facebook is ubiquitous, but it doesn’t come close to Microsoft. There is no other technology company that we use so many of its products across our personal and professional lives.

Anecdotally I’ve spoken to many people who have moved to iMacs in the last 12 months and are either disenchanted (“It still slows down over time like a PC”) or use Microsoft Windows on their iMac anyway!

2013 will be an amazing year for Microsoft in terms of value and brand positioning.

4. Indoor GPS

Shopping malls seem to be growing. We’re so used to using our smartphones as GPS devices in the outdoors, that it seems obvious to start using them for indoor navigation too.

Macy’s have used indoor GPS (http://mashable.com/2012/11/08/macys-indoor-gps/) as part of their app. Expect to see shopping malls and retailers add similar functionality to their apps. It will also be interesting to see if Google/ Bing/ Apple will add indoor navigation to their map products.

5. Learning to switch off

Have you been to a campsite recently? They’re packed. Mud has become fun again, not considered a biohazard any longer. Escaping technological comforts has never been better.

One of the most welcome releases of the iOS 6 in 2012 was ‘Do Not Disturb’. We want to gain control back from mobile and electronic interruptions. When I write documents and presentations, I now switch Outlook off. Interruptions are annoying and lower our productivity. My laptop has alerts popping up from Outlook, Gmail, Tweetdeck, Skype and Dropbox.

Expect to see more ‘Quiet modes’. Windows 8 has brought back full screen experiences rather than multiple windows – we’ll get a lot more work done this way.

6. Context sensitive

Google results have felt relevant to us because if I type in a search term, it will present me with relevant information. If I type in ‘Indian’ it lists local Indian restaurants, followed by Indian motorcycles (because Google knows I’m interested in bikes).

In 2013 we’ll be using websites that will take a number of factors into account – from the weather, to profiles of ‘similar’ customers, our previous interactions, social media feeds, whether we’re on a mobile or desktop and so on. I don’t think wider society is ready for noticeable personalisation, which I feel is a shame, so we’ll see much more subtle changes to user interfaces and results in the next 12 months.

7. The end of the QR code

QR codes annoy me – how can an illegible symbol be better than a human readable web address? The answer is that QR codes were supposed to be a trackable or more complicated link that we lazy humans wouldn’t use if we can read it.

QR codes should have been the first step to one click impulse purchasing, so that a consumer could select a specific product at the bus stop, and pay within seconds. Instead, marketing companies have dumbed them down to illegible web site addresses.

At the end of 2013 I’ll report on the last time I saw a QR code – it will have been several months.

8. Healthcare apps

My GP surgery started a website booking system (that’s completely unusable – I tried registering twice). In 2013 we’ll start using Facetime and other apps to communicate with healthcare professionals and companies.

Healthcare companies will start using social media to help us improve our lifestyle in innovative ways.

9. Drones buzzing in the sky

Robocop had it all wrong with ED209 (http://www.omnicorp.com/). Why would you have a security robot in the future when you can have a flying drone. You can already buy drones with cameras that provide real time video streaming.

In the future, if you’re at home and hear a noise downstairs in the middle of the night, you won’t go downstairs trembling, you’ll send a small drone downstairs to have a look around.

Back to 2013 though, we’ll start seeing security companies using drones to patrol the outside of buildings. There are some interesting social questions that will be raised though – do you own the airspace in your home? If you send a drone to the next door neighbour’s garden, who do you complain to? Can you shoot it down? Will we start having surface to air missile units on our roofs? Is it really science fiction?


Digital Media in Scotland


I’ve just spent the last couple of days in Scotland to mark the opening of the new Endava office in Glasgow. We ran one event in Edinburgh (which mainly focussed on the Financial Services sector) and one in Glasgow, inviting local companies to hear about our view of the Digital Media industry, and the trends that we’re seeing.

The key topics were:

  • Social Media
  • Consumer Insight
  • Personalisation

Social Media

The key starting point with Social Media, is that even Financial Services organisations who don’t understand or want to acknowledge it exists, people are discussing your company, products or service, in one channel or another. Too many people associate social media with Facebook, then perform a search on Facebook and don’t find any results, and then dismiss it. However we recommend that you widen the search, even use Google, and you’ll find specialist forums and other places where you’re being discussed.

After listening, the next step is to formalise a strategy. In Financial Services, this needs to include regulation, governance, security and staffing. The technology (subtle plug – this is where Endava comes in) starts from the listening exercise, through to implementation and operations.

Another key point on social media is that it sets the expectation of the user interface. Look at Facebook, Google + and Pinterest to see how easy a user interface can be, and then look at other sites to see how they lag behind.

Financial Services companies are catching up – my bank’s website has recently been overhauled and most of my monthly tasks can now be done simply rather than the several steps it took a few weeks ago.

Consumer Insight

Sometimes referred to as ‘Big Data’, consumer insight is important at the moment because understanding the customer is vital to increase ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and/ or profit.

I always give the analogy of the shopkeeper who knows his customers and can advise them on the most appropriate product based on their relationship and previous experiences. Consumer insight is the memory of the shopkeeper.


Firstly, you need some consumer insight to do some personalisation. The better quality insight, the better personalisation.

Amazon is still one of the best personalised websites – with recommendations based on not only what you’ve bought before, also what you’ve looked at, and how other customers have behaved too.

Personalisation can be applied to push communication too – email newsletters and text messages. However it’s vital to keep analysing, in detail, how these personalised messages are improving ROI (Return On Investment) and to keep tweaking them.


We’re seeing four key trends in Digital Media at the moment:

1.       Mobile, mobile, mobile. Despite the title, it’s not just mobile. It’s about the expectation that consumers can access your service wherever and whenever they wish. It doesn’t need to be via Internet Explorer version 8 on a desktop device bigger than 1028 pixels wide. I recently carried out some competitor analysis for a large bank and showed each of the rival’s services on a mobile device – they were unusable.

2.      Single platform – consumer insight and personalisation are linked. Push communication and Content Management Systems need to be linked. You’ll need analytics for all your channels. This all leads to a single platform requirement.

3.      Collaborate. We’re seeing multiple brands work together on joint initiatives because the sum of their efforts is so valuable. This requires some lateral thinking, strategic commercial awareness and clever marketing messaging.

4.      Consumer Insight. We’re seeing two trends linking distributed organisations together. One is social media and the other is consumer insight. The owner of the consumer insight strategy needs to communicate and work with the rest of the organisation. Every touch point with consumers needs to include data collection, and it takes mindset change to achieve this.


The two sessions were really interesting, and I always enjoy meeting companies and people who either haven’t thought about the discussion points, or who are on the path and share their experiences with others.

Personalised advertising is good for users


Personalised advertising is getting a bit of a bashing in the news recently. The whole question over privacy is being questioned; that it’s an advantage purely for advertisers and no one else.

The critics have got it all wrong. It’s the public, whether they are a mobile, web or TV viewers, are the real beneficiaries.

Firstly, let’s take a look at what personalised advertising really means. When a person buys a car magazine, do they want to see adverts inside of:

  1. Nappies
  2. Washing powder
  3. Cars

That’s an example of personalisation based on personas, or group of people. No one, that I’m aware of, would argue that nappy or washing powder manufacturers would want to advertise in a car magazine. I don’t understand why it’s any different on a website.

Now let’s move forward to personalised network advertising. This technology is based on how users move around a number of websites, who all use the same servers for their large adverts. Say a user visits a football club website regularly, and then they go to another website such as a news portal. They then see some adverts for their favourite team’s new home kit. 

This is still based on personas because it assumes some trends indicate certain behaviour (in this example, a user visits a football club website regularly so they probably support that team). This is an advantage for both the advertiser (no point spending marketing money on loads of advertising banners aimed at everybody and anybody) and also the consumer – they see relevant ads.

The next step is individually targeted, truly personalised content. It’s what many supermarkets do, based on your commonly purchased items. It’s takes into account some trends, but mainly the specific individual. 

Take the car example above. A user sees an advert on a website for a car. They end up buying the car (probably not based purely on the advert!) Personalisation will then stop the user from seeing worthless, same ads for the car and may replace them with insurance companies that specialise in that car market, and maybe even the demographics of the user.

This is an advantage of personalised advertising. It’s what shop keepers have been doing for centuries – understanding customers who walk into the shop (browse their website) and make targeted recommendations.

Car ad courtesy of Georg Schwalbach (GS1311) on Flickr

Heinz personalisation


I am always surprised about how I seem to learn a new buzzword or new type of technology that I’ve never heard before, and then I seem to hear it several times in the next couple of days.

I started reading about personalised labels in the middle of last week. I’d like to say that it was in depth industry research however the truth is that an article about ‘Get Well Soon’ soup in the NMA news feed caught my eye because Mrs H was feeling rather poorly last week. The warm weather has subsided and it seems half of Britain has caught a cold, Mrs H falling into this category.

So I thought I’d be nice and order a personalised soup for her. The Facebook app and checkout process was super slick, although one particular issue knocks out the entire campaign logic – it takes 4 days for the soup to arrive in the post, by which time Mrs H’s cold had (thankfully) cleared up and I suspect most people’s colds are gone by 4 days plus a Sunday to make it 5 days for delivery.

One other minor observation – although I doubt most other consumers would notice – is that the agency who have implemented the campaign, We Are Social, are branded on all emails, and part of the checkout process.

Anyway, I ordered the soup on Wednesday and it arrived on Monday. Mrs H’s cold had all but gone by Monday but she thought it was a nice surprise getting the personalised soup in the post. Will we eat it? Probably not, but it looks really good in the kitchen.

I’d never bought a mass produced, personalised food product like this before Wednesday however on Friday I was asked by a customer about personalised labels and again on Monday and Tuesday by other clients!

To finish, on Monday I was in a totally unrelated meeting when the prospective customer said that they print personalised labels for a variety of customers. This was completely unprompted, at which point I started to laugh at the coincidence of the last few days!

Personalised content getting confused

At Endava we strongly believe the future of consumer websites is what we call ‘B21‘ – a highly personalised web experience.

Our product stack and all web technologies are now based around the efficiency of getting data into our clients’ systems, analysing it and finding the ‘insight’, and serving relevant content.

When I logged into Tesco.com this evening, the personalised recommendations for the house were rather amusing – somewhat ‘religiously confused’ – wondering whether to wish us a Happy Passover or a Happy Easter!