Every so often, my mother gets retargeted a bunch of ads and then when I speak to her she complains that she’s being ‘followed.’ From a technology standpoint, yes she is. Yet every time this happens, I’m forced to explain to her that the L.L. Bean banner ad for house slippers is based upon her likes, dislikes, and online behaviors. I’m also forced to convince her that it’s actually a good thing, because it is. Serving you an ad that potentially interests you, actually benefits both you and the advertiser. This simple retargeting example illuminates a far broader opportunity, one which is far more valuable to marketers – the concept of one-to-one marketing.

For quite a while now, almost since the advent of mature digital advertising, marketers have been talking about and pining for a way to directly reach consumers on a personalized basis, yet at scale. And, rightly so, they should be. The digital advertising medium is profoundly more equipped than say the linear television medium to track consumer interest and behavior, and accomplish such a feat.

Yet, it hasn’t. Or has it? Well, from a mainstream perspective, it’s still a bit cloudy. Try Googling terms like ‘1:1 marketing’ and ‘mass personalization’ and you’ll find that the industry indeed has been dancing with the notion of forming deeply personal engagement with individuals and then scaling it, for about a decade and a half. Yet the last major news outlet to write on the topic, that I was able to find through a Google search, was an article in Forbes from fives years ago. 

However, over roughly the past decade, the ad tech industry has created and honed essentially all the necessary pieces to effectively reach the Holy Grail of 1:1 marketing. SSPs and DSPs are the efficient platforms to transact media inventory. DMPs have evolved to add sophisticated data to the equation, for real-time decisioning. And with the recent addition of creative management platforms (or CMPs) which help design, serve, and optimize intelligent creative, all of the pieces are now in place to make 1:1 marketing and mass personalization actually happen. It’s truly an exciting time in digital advertising, when brands and agencies can truly target and connect with individuals. So…what are you waiting for?