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Raise the Banner. Consumers Rule!

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The evidence of a consumer backlash to established online marketing tactics is mounting right before our eyes.

If you go to download.com, you will notice that adware and spyware removal software are the two most popular programs, and recent studies show click-through rates on e-mails keep going down. According to a July 2004 Yahoo! study of 37,000 e-mail users, nearly one-half of the people said they found the chore of sifting through junk e-mails more stressful’ than sitting in a traffic jam. Web users are getting fed up with the bombardment of irrelevant messages every time they log on.

With Jupiter Research stating that spending on e-mail marketing in the U.S. will rise from $2.1 billion in 2003 to $6.1 billion in 2008, just imagine how ineffective marketer e-mails will become. People have stopped opening e-mails they opted-in to receive from their favorite brands, even though they want to stay informed of the marketer’s sales or other news based on their self-expressed interests.

So users don’t want advertising? Not exactly true. For instance, according to a recent ChoiceStream study of 678 Internet users from ages 18-50, over 80% of these consumers want to receive messages in their advertisements that are based on their self-expressed interests. Consumers want to be in control, and get relevant, timely and permission-based advertising that isn’t intrusive (NO Popups) and won’t continuously fill their inboxes with sales pitches. How do you build a customer relationship that way?

There is a place for advertising materials to be read and for ongoing marketer and consumer communication to be had, and that is the ad banner space. Realistically, online advertising is not going to go away, but there is way to control the types of advertising messages that are received.

Back in 1996, when I was part of the team that created the first Internet-wide Instant-Messenger (ICQ), we noticed that users wanted to have control of the communication with their friends – making it permission-based, relevant to them, and timely. This same type of thinking transcends into the online marketing space, where savvy consumers want similar characteristics of “invitation-only” communication with their favorite brands.

And, as a recent Forrester Research recent study about consumer fatigue in advertising states, “When you treat your consumers with respect, dignity and humor, they will buy more.” By respecting consumers, marketers will be building and retaining stronger online customer communities. It’s a common sense approach to strategically dealing with today’s world of clutter.

At Dotomi we have developed a new communication channel between marketers and consumers, that on one hand, solves all those users’ privacy and clutter concerns, and gives a solution for marketers to better communicate with their customers based on the robust data they already collected for years in their CRM systems. It is named Dotomi Direct Messaging.

The main technology idea behind Direct Messaging is the “Privacy Pipeline,” which is a permission-based way to connect the consumer to their favorite marketers using the ad banner as a communication channel. Direct Messaging does not increase the number of advertisements, but simply replaces irrelevant banners with personal messages from marketers that the consumer wants to communicate with. The consumer gives permission to the marketer to establish that pipe and can cancel it (opt-out) at any time. There is a fortress of privacy that is built up around the consumer – protecting he/she from Dotomi and the publisher sites. We are not aware of the specific content exchanges – just that it has been exchanged. That’s what we call, “Good Cookies,” or “Anonymous Cookies.”

Apply that technology thinking to real life circumstances. People are tired of receiving irrelevant, intrusive messages that clutter their lives. The Internet has unfortunately become a place that is unsafe to consumers – not knowing what is worth clicking on or if their every move is unknowingly being tracked. Enough! As the vast majority of consumers get savvier about good and bad cookies, there will be changes in the forms of advertising messages that are delivered – based on the consumer’s interests.

Let’s take Ms. Rachel Cook as an example, who is surfing the traveling section of a “behavioral targeting” enabled Web site. The next time she visits that same Web site she might see an advertisement from a travel agency in a non-travel section of the site. The travel company bought a campaign on that Web site with advertisements targeted at “frequent travelers.”

Now with Dotomi, let’s assume Rachel is a customer of that travel company and gave it permission to communicate with her over the advertisement space while browsing the Web. Next time she is browsing the Web (not just on that particular Web site, but now on another one), she might see a personal ad banner from that travel company with a promotional offer based on Rachel’s self-expressed interests via registration.

So, the ad banner becomes a relevant messaging window between the travel company and Rachel – making both parties win. The travel company uses data that Rachel has provided – sending a highly targeted message, and Rachel receives useful information to help her make a smarter travel decision when she needs the content versus being lost in her inbox. The next marketer dialogue can be asking Rachel about her trip – not a hard-sell, but a softer message that treats Rachel with respect -which builds on their life-time relationship. As consumers become increasingly in control of their Web experience, marketers will have to raise the banner to new mediums and find better ways to communicate, because consumers will rule.

As the CTO of Dotomi, Yair has deep technology expertise in creating, personal, relevant and timely one-to-one messaging channels, which he is now delivering to the online advertising market. Formerly, the CTO of ICQ, Yair is credited with the creation of Instant Messaging, the technology that has revolutionized the way we communicate on the Web. His successful invention was bought by AOL.

Raise the Banner. Consumers Rule!
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About Yair Goldfinger
As the CTO of Dotomi, Yair has deep technology expertise in creating, personal, relevant and timely one-to-one messaging channels, which he is now delivering to the online advertising market. Formerly, the CTO of ICQ, Yair is credited with the creation of Instant Messaging, the technology that has revolutionized the way we communicate on the Web. His successful invention was bought by AOL. WebProNews Writer
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