Bill Gross, founder of Idealab and CEO of UberMedia, has been on the leading edge of all things technical for most of his career. His early ventures were all about software development. These days, he’s steering UberMedia in the direction of predictive advertising. This is a form of advertising that marketers may be relying on in the near future and was highlighted by Adam Popescu on Mashable recently.
With so many people using geolocation services and social media on their smartphones, wouldn’t it be nice if marketers could merge the information from these sources to serve up advertising that people will find helpful in their current location? Bill Gross’s idea is to “change advertising from intrusive to invited.” There’s nothing new about geolocation but putting GPS-tracked data together with recent social media posts by consumers allows marketers to target individuals with promotions that matter to them at the current time. UberMedia has had some positive early success in campaigns for Nike and Footlocker when they targeted Twitter followers of New York Knicks team members. The click-throughs on these campaigns came in at 5%-10%, a much higher yield than is usually realized for mobile display efforts.
To counter the usual complaints of intrusiveness and the need for consumer privacy, the UberMedia-enabled campaigns are based on consumers who opt in. Consumers can also temporarily suspend the tracking by adjusting settings on their phones.
If predictive or 'invited' advertising catches on, it could become a huge industry, especially for service providers like UberMedia. It’s likely too soon to know if consumers and marketers will embrace the trend in a big way, but it’s worth watching.