Yesterday’s 60-minute “Future of Marketing 2: Technology Driven Personalization” virtual conference featured 60 speakers providing opinions and insights on personalization and marketing in 60-second increments. The webcast was a delicious information feast that seemed personalized for our own limited attention span.

New Possibilities for Engagement

Organizations have long collected information about consumers, but today it’s different. “We know everything they buy,” Marc Parrish, Vice President of Retention and Loyalty at Barnes & Noble, commented. But, it doesn’t stop there. Organizations know what consumers buy, when, who their friends are and as of late, where they go. This information is tremendously valuable for companies to create highly targeted and personalized campaigns that they hope will create loyal customers that feel the brand is simply a part of their identity. According to Shama Kabani, President, The Marketing Zen Group, “The future of marketing belongs to companies that can become part of the consumer’s identity.”

Is this really cool or extremely creepy? Like most things, it depends on your perspective. If an individual we weren’t familiar with knew as much about us as most marketers, we’d likely call them stalkers, but many consumers see personalization as beneficial -- not an attack on personal space. Many voluntarily exchange privacy and personal information for personalized offers and other conveniences.

Unique Perspectives, Rapid Delivery

Speakers were pre-recorded for the conference and participants were invited to interact via Facebook. Thought leaders provided their perspectives on the history, the ethical and social implications and the future of personalization and accountability. The opportunity to hear information from so many diverse professionals in an abbreviated period was a unique experience; organizers might be on to something here.

Speakers ranging from Guy Kawasaki, who encouraged companies to “just put in the work” to develop customer relationships, instead of relying on new tools, to Ty Ahmad-Taylor of Fan Feedr, who embraces technology for developing relationships, and discussed personalization using the lessons they’ve gained on the ground implementing the solutions many are just trying to figure out. We found that the content was a good mix of theory and practical experiences. It was also nice that organizers provided a balance of perspectives on controversial issues such as privacy.

Yesterday was the second Future of Marketing conference organized by creator Sam Rosen. The last conference focused on social media and had an equally diverse set of participants. Given the success of the last two, Rosen is likely to have a long run of success with the new conference concept.  We are looking forward to the next installment.