Last weekend, while heading out to snowboard, I became aware that Google Maps now integrates voice traffic updates alongside directions.
And I was reminded of a paper I had published on Intention Broadcasting back in 2009: “...one of the few services to be maturing and generating significant revenues is turn-by-turn navigation. This [type of] service deals with clear intentions, i.e. intentions to get from A to B. Picking up on the broadcasted intentions enables the services to provide preference-based, contextually-relevant advertising, i.e. where is the next most convenient [branded] petrol station. Could it be that such services, which can clearly identify their users’ intentions, have a better chance of succeeding?”
Serving up adverts based on our intentions is not new; when you search on Google you are often sharing an intention, e.g. the intention to buy a new car.
Also services where you input an intention (e.g. to rent a flat) and receive notifications letting you know when a potential match has been found have been around for a while.
But as smartphones become ever more contextually aware, we will start to get highly personalised and responsive adverts that are spontaneously delivered based on an understanding of our habits and intentions.
Smartphones often know your location, movements, schedules, social networks, and they also know what’s going on around you; e.g. the traffic, weather, events, festivals, etc. This will enable them to deliver more sensitive and appropriate marketing messages that are highly personal and hyperlocal, e.g. letting you know on your way home that the local delicatessen has your favourite bread, cheese or organic roast chicken on sale.
People are getting used to giving applications more access to their data in exchange for more personalised, useful and responsive services. And even when a service doesn’t come for free, like a butler, they still need to know your habits and quirks if they are going to serve you better – as the aim of a great butler is to anticipate your needs even before you are aware of them.
One-tap intention broadcasting apps
It is already coming to the point that when we have a need, desire or problem, we can broadcast to “whomever” is qualified (filtered and rated) to help us out, be it a home errand or a builder; and they will come to us rather than us having to search for them. TaskRabbit in the US and MyBuilder in the UK are two such established service.
And Uber has already demonstrated the billion dollar opportunity this flow reversal of the everyday contracting can bring about. Is it therefore inevitable that a one-tap Uber Everything app is soon around the corner?
Planning for a future of intent-based marketing
I have been working on a new app service called Pings where a rudimentary system is already in place in the beta version to learn user habits and make suggestions for a user’s next most likely activities.
Over time, as more contextual data is collected (e.g. location and traffic), the more intelligent the service will become in anticipating user situations and intentions, and thereby give venue and shop managers an improved ability to send out spontaneous and relevant promotional opportunities, e.g. filling underused capacity at cinemas or sports centres by pinging offers at relatively short notice to users who are likely to appreciate and able to take up the offer.
With a bit of care, intent-based marketing has the potential to be highly connected to our needs and usefully integrated into our daily lives – and will give an alternative respite from the intrusive and clumsy banner ads of today.
The writer Richard von Kaufmann is Head of Social and a Founding Partner at the social media communications agency Vaikutustoimisto Zipipop Freud.