Subscribe to receive:

Email Updates: Subscribe to Highway 12 Ventures RSS Feed via email
RSS Feed:        Subscribe to Highway 12 Ventures RSS Feed


Aug 06

“Opting In” To Advertising

Posted by: Mark Solon        

Mike, a 25 year-old bond trader is walking back to his apartment after work. He’s had a tough day on the trading desk and needs a beer or two. The pub he’s about to walk by realizes that their perfect demographic is about to walk by. The pub pushes an ad out to Mike’s iPhone telling him that there’s $1 drafts and a free order of wings if he comes in before 6pm.

Out in the suburbs, Stacie, a stylish 30-something hockey mom, has gotten her kids off to school and is planning her day. She looks at her task list on her computer and checks her email and remembers that she needs to get an exterminator because she’s seen a bunch of ants lately. In her email, she sees that Peter’s Pest Control has sent her a trial introductory coupon for 50% off.

This is the holy grail of local advertising: Advertisers able to reach people when they’re in buying mode. Lots of companies big and small have been working on this very large opportunity for years. Ever since a good friend of mine started talking about starting a company to address this a couple of years ago, I’ve been intrigued with how this can done. There’s lots of moving parts that would have to come together to make this happen. Most notably however is that consumers will have to embrace it.

My favorite peanut butter

My favorite peanut butter

I believe that somewhere down the road (it may be two years or it may be ten), consumers will share detailed demographics about themselves with advertisers so that they can consume advertising when and how they want to. Personally, I think it’s long overdue.

My favorite golf ball

My favorite golf ball

I think this also relates to brands. For instance, like everyone else I have real brand affinity. I like Titleist golf balls, North Face camping gear, Sanuk sandals, Van Duzer Pinot Noir & Justin’s Peanut Butter, among hundreds of other brands. I would gladly tell these companies everything about me (really valuable information to them) if they would create a dialogue with me and give me discounts for my brand loyalty. If there were one central place online where I could access all the brands and local merchants that I want to engage with, I’d give them accurate feedback on their products: what I like and don’t like, how often I use their products and what I’d like to see from them in the future.

My favorite wineMy favorite wine

Yesterday I met with a very smart gentleman who’s been thinking long and hard about this problem and how to address it. I’m curious, how do you feel about this? Would you be willing to share your personal demographics with brands that you have an affinity with to get access to latest releases, best deals, and special offers? Would you maintain an active dialouge with them? What about local merchants? Would you opt in to receive offers when you need your windows washed, driveway sealed, or a new carpet?

I believe that this is where it’s heading. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me…


17 Responses to ““Opting In” To Advertising”

  1. avatar Mike Gaul says:

    Mark…when it comes down to making a spending decision, it is all about service. I would not hesitate to share information with national brands or with local business if I could benefit.

  2. avatar jkm says:

    << Would you be willing to share your personal demographics with brands that you have an affinity with to get access to latest releases, best deals, and special offers?>>>

    This is Facebook's secret sauce.

  3. avatar Peter says:

    simply put, yes. there are brands/companies/providers, be they local, national, or global, to whom i would give permission to bother me, but only in ways that could add value. Ideal example: I make hash marks on my running shoes as I accumulate miles - EVA foam only lasts so long. Solution? - MapMyRun shares my data with Newton Running. MapMyRun notes my average mileage per week for a particular season and pings/txts/tweets/push notifies me a week or two ahead of my pro-forma 300th mile, offering 10% off another pair of Newtons, provided I buy then…

    Works for me!

  4. avatar Anna says:

    shopittome.comshopittome.com - somewhat similar to what you are talking about.

  5. avatar Alicia Ritter says:

    Certainly! I'll take 10% off my next BMW or Apple purchase (my favorite bands). I think the key reason behind my ability to "cough up the info" is because of how these companies behave and have behaved in the past. It takes a long time to build a trusting relationship, and no doubt was a deliberate and conscious attempt on their part to do so. Well, it worked. There may also be varying levels of info I am willing to give up; the newer the relationship, the lesser the info. Kind of like personal relationships, what you do is a lot more powerful than what you say, and if you treat me well, and behave honestly and with integrity, I will reward you with my info and my dollar.

  6. avatar Jamie Cooper says:

    Mark, I also agree that this is where things are heading. However, it is important for brands to understand as you point out, that we are heading there based on consumer preference and choice. That is the driving factor. Brands that will do well, will establish a real bond first then listen intently to their brand zealots in a way most consumer products are unequipped to do in any scale today. They will treat them like kings/queens and not pimp out their data for poorly thought out marketing campaigns or otherwise disrespect that bond of trust. At the core of this movement, brands are essentially learning how to DIALOGUE with people that care (and learning that not everyone does) and not just turn up the volume louder on the megaphone that we didn't want to hear in the first place. All this requires an excellent, not just par, but very in depth understanding of the real consumer and not just their demographic data (married, home maker, college ed, 35 with kids). It requires real understanding of "people" as crazy as that sounds… and the respect of knowing how to converse with them. For too long even brand zealots have just been another buying demo in the faceless mass of sales data. There is a long way to go for many but I think we are heading there -and fast. The mobile app ideas can work but I believe some of this level of background understanding and planning is critical.

    The way some larger brands are using social media is proof that things are moving. Ford, Pepsi and Southwest Airlines are examples.


    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      this is great feedback Jamie. do you think that a "one site" website where consumers go to dialogue with all of their favorite brands could work or do you think that this has to be a separate relationship with each brand directly?

  7. avatar Steve Meyer says:

    My inboxes are already cluttered with junk which includes directed advertising. I am not willing to open them to learn of the offer. There are some who relish the Facebook and Twitter world and are willing to commit the time to it. I suspect there a whole lot of others for whom the novelity of facebook and twitter is gone and the time tradeoff of sorting through the messages is unattractive. I used to open the msgs from the airlines about promotions but now I don't because the value proposition is not attractive. I think the same fate will come to other brands we might recognize - Van Duzer or North Face - because the directed e-mail is so cheap, the marketing guys will overdo it. And the consumer benefit will be lost in the chaos of too much in my inbox.

    • avatar Mark Solon says:


      What if there was one website where you could CHOOSE to go when YOU wanted to. It would incorporate all of the brands a merchants that you chose to have there. There wouldn't be any clutter to your inbox, it would be a dedicated site. Is that interesting to you as a consumer?

      I also think that there's an generation component playing out here as well. Old guys like you and I still think about things like "privacy". For me, it's always going to be an issue. However, being around a lot of young folks who are growing up with the internet as part of their lives, they don't think about privacy the same way you and I do. They've grown up in a generation where everything's out there for everyone else to see.

  8. We make choices on products and services everyday based on past preference, emotional motivations, brand messaging, input from those around us (online and off), etc. The sources are everywhere and they guide our decision. But then we add in accessibility, immediacy of need … ok you get the point.

    The "real-time web" that is Twitter and online properties like Twitter are driving consumer sentiment in a significant way. People are opting into messaging and paying attention to corporate responses to issues that they have encountered before, during and after the purchase process and yes brands like Ford, Coca Cola and many much smaller than these are taking heed. (

    With that introduction I believe that there are two types of advertising that everything will roll-up and into and I will call them Evergreen and Real-time.

    Evergreen falls closely to the traditional media advertising and PR. It is persistent and expected. It creates impressions and although it affects the product / service in the consumers mind it typically will be used to create a sense of breadth and professionalism that is difficult to convey in the other type of media - Real-time.

    Real-time or just-in-time marketing will be used to influence the consumer when they are at the point of purchase just as you described in your post. Many new media marketers would have you believe that this is the only type of marketing that will exist in the future, but I believe it is just not true.

    New media marketers who understand how to effectively use the communication vehicle will insert themeselves and their offering strategically to make a lasting and positive impression when the opportunity presents itself. You might say that the guy who shoots a beer deal via a mobile device is intruding upon the personal space of the passer by, but where the user "tweets" I need a beer and the marketer invites him down to have one the opportunity created is wholly different.

    To conclude, real-time marketing is about listening more than talking, responding more than promoting and being timely, relevant and visible when the opportunity creates itself. That's when the magic happens.

  9. avatar Mark Solon says:

    it's clear that the new social technologies are going to greatly impact how we interact with the brands and merchants we care about. i'm interested in finding the startup(s) that facilitate that relationship.

  10. avatar Perry says:

    Hey Mark. Hope you're getting a break from the pace, and only occasionally sneaking off to the bathroom with your iphone ;) This video leads to a social media story line which I love - essentially "in the future you won't search for products and services, they will find you". Sound familiar? ;)

Post a new comment