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Digital marketing is an essential part of business – and we should always be looking for ways to improve our strategies. The competition in the digital world to uncover the next great thing is hotting up – and Apple has made a bold statement with their latest targeted advertising patent.
We’ve all had that creepy moment online – when an ad pops up and you realise that you’re the target, based on your searches or clicks. When consumers access information online, brands refine their offers and marketing strategies, and target them to prospective customers. Apple’s new patent takes this a step further.
What does Apple’s latest patent mean for marketers and consumers?
This latest patent is an advertising service backed by Apple which gathers financial information to better understand consumers. Instead of advertising products consumers want to buy, this system advertises products that consumers can afford.
In the ever growing world of online shopping, businesses need a solid e-commerce strategy. Apple’s patent aims to help them become more efficient at targeting their online advertising.
In other words, the advertising consumers would see would be based on their credit card balances – and businesses could target their marketing to those who are most likely to buy. Apple sees this as a major advantage – for consumers and marketers – as only the advertising of goods and services that individual users can afford would be shown to them.
How would it work?
To offer this type of advertising Apple would have to access sensitive information. The system, as patented, would access the credit and debit card information of consumers and would monitor their balances. This information would allow businesses to understand how much consumers have available to spend.
To gather this information, consumers would have to first agree, and may need an incentive to actually enter the system. The patent itself is aimed at mobile marketing, as the advertising would be received in a mobile platform.
For technical and in-depth definitions, have a look at the specific claims within the patent application – claim #20 summarises it well.
Smarter spending and effective targeting
When it comes to targeted advertising, market segmentation has always been an important part of any strategy. This patent, if it comes into play, would essentially become a very effective market segmentation tool for e-commerce business.
The tendency to break down brand targeting into smaller segments, is becoming more common. It has led to big social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, to create showcase pages, Google+ to favour communities created by Google+ business profiles and sites like Facebook to increasingly display what their users want to see – and eliminate what they don’t.
The potential is there for this patent to become a tool for marketers, helping them know if their message is reaching the right audience.
And let’s face it – as a consumer, as much as you like those designer shoes or the next tech savvy gadget, they might be too expensive for your current budget.
The ethical debate
For consumers, this patent may open up ethical discussions. Apple has built its reputation on ensuring they have no real interest in selling consumer data – but this patent would run on just that. Apple has patented the ability to implement such a system – but maybe there’s an ulterior motive, such as shielding the idea from competitors. Tech companies tend to apply for patents to stay ahead of the game and prepare for the future. Some patents make it, others don’t.
Even if Apple does not develop such a system, the ethical debate remains. How far should online businesses go to gather information to guide their advertising? There’s two sides to this – the marketers who welcome data with a smile, and the consumers who have concerns about giving too much information away.
Will the patent become a reality?
Although this system is yet to become a reality, it potentially could be up and running in the not too distant future, encouraging smarter spending by consumers and more effective targeting for marketers. It shows how promising the future of mobile and e-commerce advertising is, and the huge potential of what can be achieved within it.
Do you believe this patent is inevitable? From an e-commerce standpoint I would say yes. But as a consumer, would you readily share your financial information, to be targeted only with what you can afford? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.