Advertising – predicting or persuading behaviour?

If communications service providers are to get to grips with the ideas around context based offers, it is important to understand what is already possible. And how advertising works now. In order to make a start, we decided to call an old friend, Alex Shifrin, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi in Moscow.


BV: Alex, our industry is trying to understand how to offer context based, almost predictive based services to their customers. What is possible right now?

AS: Actually, there’s nothing really new to the concept of predictive advertising. Advertising is normally used to create behaviour, whether it’s something as small as switching to a competitive brand or something as big as creating a non-existent industry.

BV: You can create non-existent industries?

AS: Absolutely, as an example, disposable diapers didn’t exist as a concept until P&G decided to educate the market on this after WWII.

Trying to predict the behaviour of consumers and offer them something that they may or may not have known they wanted seems like a mix of focus group testing and classic advertising all in one go. It seems natural that with technology where it is, this type of approach can be combined in real time.

BV: So, you can influence customers hugely already, but can we get towards a personalised advert or offer?

AS: We are getting there, and this is why advertising, like communications, is changing so dramatically. For instance, if you want to know what can be done to further predict consumer behaviour right now, you should look at social listening. It’s basically an engine that trawls the internet and picks up chatter, posts, etc. based on a specific keyword algorithm. You can use this to identify key opinion leaders, track brand behaviour, or even help with sales. Toyota uses this all the time. The sales cycle for a new car is every 3-5 years, so there’s a short window of opportunity to sell to someone getting ready to buy. Generally, when people are getting ready to make a purchase, they change their behaviour online.  They visit certain types of websites, they ask certain types of questions.  Toyota has all these behavioural patterns mapped and when someone appears to be getting ready to buy a car, they target them with advertising and promos (test drives, etc.).

BV: That still sounds quite mechanical in a way. Is there a way of making that more personal still. For instance, combining information from a travel web site and an operators knowledge of the customer would provide great information on where, how and for what reason people are travelling. Then very relevant offers could be designed.

AS: Absolutely, and there are already solutions out there that do this, through combining social media with location etc. Foursquare is one such.

BV: Some excellent insights. Let us hope operators can learn from these type of examples. Thank you very much Alex.

AS: Pleasure, thank you.


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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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