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Alexa…Can you read my mind?

I absolutely love my Amazon Echo. I can order my pizza using it, It knows what songs I want to listen to, and I can check the weather without having to pick-up my phone. It’s like Alexa knows me and can predict my next move. Beyond the Echo, there are quite a few other gadgets we have in the house that really help ‘amp-up’ our tech savvy status. Arlo is a mobile security system that lets me see what is going on in and around my house. Furbo, another camera, is just for our pets. This one lets me give them a treat from the device when I’m away from home. Plus, it’s super cute when the animals get close-up to the camera and you see their faces zoomed into the screen. But, with all this technology at our fingertips you have to think, “how much does the internet know about me? Am I making my own choices, or am I being convinced by Google that I like certain things because of my search history?” We as consumers continue to say we want more privacy, but we also continue to purchase connected devices. According to, sales of smart devices have increased 25% year-to-date.

Being in the advertising industry, we have a social responsibility to make sure our clients know how these products work. We have to make sure we stay up-to-date on best practices and are helping our clients find effective ways to reach their customers digitally. We all get really excited about the capabilities that are available to advertise across these various tactics, but I think it’s important to take a step back and decide how much of your budget should be allotted for digital and how much should go toward traditional. There has to be a good balance of education of the brand and emotional connection of your brand’s story that leads them to feel good about you when they find you online.

Anything you are doing online, your competitors are too, so you want to be the one consumers already know and connect with to prompt a quicker reaction. Consumers are smart. At this point most can tell when they are being followed online. If a company complies with basic rules it’s ok by most, but when they get too pushy and become like a stalker, that’s when people tend to push back. Creative is what drives the reaction. If the message blends in with the material online, we view these ads as helpful. These ads are enhancing our lives and updating us on new products or services our favorite brands have to offer us. If we are advertising to people, but have a message that doesn’t support their search history, or worse, they click on the ad and the page they land on doesn’t have the content they thought would be there, it can be viewed as a negative brand interaction. Audience reaction is only half the battle. Keep them on the page by making the navigation easy for them.

I do believe in time we will have some privacy laws to protect us online. There are things around the corner that will be happening to better serve us as we search. In the mean time it’s up to us as consumers, advertisers and marketers to decide how we interact online and how we set-up the communication. If we can find a balance, people will be more apt–excited even–to integrate this smart technology into their lives. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful for my Google maps app. It can find me all day if it means I don’t spend hours out of town spinning my wheels….literally. If you don’t live here, you should spend a winter in the Midwest. You’d know exactly what I mean.

Author: Shana Boyd

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