What is Experiential Personalization?

3radical has a beef with what the martech industry calls personalization. As CEO Michael Fisher puts it, “Serving a consumer a digital ad for a raincoat because that consumer was recently looking elsewhere at raincoats isn’t personalization.”

The company says it can use privacy-compliant zero-party data to power what it calls experiential personalization: truly customizing customer experiences to reflect their personal interests and needs. Fisher elaborated on the concept in an interview with Street Fight.

How do you define experiential personalization? How does it differ from personalization in general?

Experiential Personalization is the use of factual, deductive data to qualify contextual sentiment, interest, and motivation, enabling brands to serve relevant, suitable, in-moment marketing communications that direct a consumer to a personalized experience based on their indicated contextual intent.

Serving a consumer a digital ad for a raincoat because that consumer was recently looking elsewhere at raincoats isn’t personalization. That brand has no idea what the consumer’s intent or motivation was — especially if the consumer may have been browsing for a gift for someone else. Rather, if I’m on a site reading about the latest trends in raincoats and click on a digital ad for a brand’s raincoats, which takes me specifically to the brand’s raincoats — and not the main page of the website or a generic pop-up of for a percentage off — that, in a very simplistic form, is Experiential Personalization. It points to collaborative advertising and personalized journeys that move beyond current digital ecosystem roadblocks.

How does experiential personalization relate to privacy changes?

Experiential Personalization delivers a compliant, personalized experience to consumers without the use of personally identifiable information (PII). It promotes the end of surveillance-based data capture, with the means to recognize intent, motivation, and interest, helping brands align experiences accordingly.

Many companies tout the importance of first-party data given privacy changes. But the challenge is getting enough data to scale marketing (this is part of why third-party data has historically been helpful). Your thoughts on whether first-party data can scale and how this issue relates to experiential personalization?

Let’s look at data more from the perspective of quality over quantity. There’s numerous case studies referencing the 80/20 rule, i.e. top consumers, who are a relatively small portion of the customer base (about 20%), represent about 80% of a brand’s revenue. This is why brands should focus on earning data from these consumers. It’s not about the quantity of data; it’s about getting the right data for the right consumers.

Additionally, data received directly from consumers eliminates the creep factor. This goes beyond first-party data, which is traditionally more transactional, and rather focuses on what Forrester calls Zero-Party Data, which is rich, actionable, and fully consented data shared directly from consumers through a consumer-defined value exchange. This will be a strategic differentiator for brands.

Can you give me an example of how a brand or retailer used experiential personalization to achieve business objectives and serve customers?

Organizations have long chased the holy grail of personalization, which for the most part has created relevant and highly personalized outbound messages via direct mail, email, push notifications, and texts. However, the personalization stops there. Organizations spend a lot of money attempting to create landing pages and microsites to convince a consumer to convert and buy what is being sold. Much investment is put into taxonomy development, user experience design, and customized landing environments, but to no avail. The personalization is always disconnected from the landing experience — until now.

Brands can offer customized landing experiences without landing pages by aligning site content with consumer’s interests, motivations, and intent, delivering unique experiences on an individualized basis. In a recent program we did for a large Fortune 500 direct-to-consumer organization with a significant digital and physical footprint, 3radical implemented an earned (or zero-party) data and audience engagement experience that reactivated close to 100,000 audience members, while achieving 53% of repeat engagement throughout the campaign, which garnered 4,000 discrete data attributes within the seven-day progressive data acquisition and reactivation initiative.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015 and regularly consults with companies in the space on content and communications. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.