The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Cookie Monsters: How marketers will find and track you in a world without cookies — November 18, 2013

Cookie Monsters: How marketers will find and track you in a world without cookies

Users beware: the marketing monsters are still lurking under your browser’s bed.

cookies

As many advertisers become frighteningly more tech savvy and as their relentless pursuit to own the ‘battle for context’ continues, the reality is that no law or governance system will truly be able to hold marketers back from finding, learning about and effectively reaching you. As Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic Wire best puts it, “There is now a fine line between cool and creepy”.

Whatever ethical views you share and wherever you think the line should be drawn for online advertisers, it’s indisputable that some of the strategies and innovations that our marketing contemporaries are producing are nothing short of remarkable and somewhat genius.

Here are just a few new strategies currently employed to keep you awake at night:

Fingerprinting

Browsers, by their very nature are designed to send and receive information. Depending on where you are, what resolution you have, what plugins you’ve installed, the fonts you use and what timezone you’re in is a factor that leaves an identifiable mark – a sort of ‘fingerprint’ that can be traced back to the various touch points you’ve engaged at.

With smartphones and tablets unable to support third-party cookies, many of the larger brands are looking towards fingerprinting as a means to monitor and track how users engage with their products across multiple devices.

Whilst a still relatively unsophisticated practice, fingerprinting is becoming widely popular thanks to its potential longevity – unlike cookies, you can’t erase it.

Conversion pixels and Facebook PMDs

Earlier this year Facebook rolled out new conversion tracking capabilities to all advertising accounts through the form of ‘conversion pixels’, which are simply snippets of code inserted in header tags of offsite webpages such as checkouts, landing pages and forms.

‘So what? Google has had conversion tracking for years!’ one may say… well, the real magic happens when we apply conversion pixels in conjunction with a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) platform.

Kenshoo is one such example of a popular PMD platform that uses Facebook conversion pixels in interesting and innovative ways. Specialising in ‘closed loop targeting’, Kenshoo leverages both social media and search engine data to track a user’s journey across multiple platforms and mediums – from a customer’s first impression to a Google search and final conversion while optimising massive volumes of advertisements along the way.

With conversion pixels at the heart of it, marketers who use such platforms can actually identify which consumers clicked through from Facebook, visited certain landing page, left, conducted a Google search two days later, returned to a new landing page and purchased your product.

This means that marketers can not only track when and how you bought something, they can now track your intent far more effectively than before.

Social profiling

Customer relationship management can sometimes begin before a customer relationship starts. Believe it or not, people are already gathering information from you from across the web using the multiple publicly available APIs from around the web whether you’ve engaged with them before or not.  It only takes one sign from you – such as opting in with your email or phone number somewhere – to unlock all the secrets that surround your digital persona.

Facebook’s new features to target ‘Custom Audiences’ and create ‘Lookalike’ audiences began beta testing around March this year and so far has been a huge success for advertisers.

With custom audiences, brands can upload their existing email database to Facebook and serve targeted ads exclusively to their existing customers as well as identify if they’re actively engaged with them on social or not.

With Lookalike audiences, brands can upload a small list of their most lucrative customers to a secure, remote server and match them with Facebook’s 1.1 billion user database to help identify an entirely new list of potential customers that share common characteristics with their ideal audience.

These NSA like capabilities aren’t limited to big brands with deep pockets.

The Full Contact, for example is an online service that crowd-sources publicly available data sourced from social network APIs to serve up-to-date information about any prospect. Full Contact’s Person API, for example allows you to turn partial customer contacts (such as an email, twitter handle, Facebook id or phone number) into full contacts complete with up to date social profiles.

It’s all just the beginning

Despite new laws arising out of Europe and the United States around internet tracking, tech companies and large advertisers are already well ahead of what’s next. Our increasing interconnectedness, dependency on social profiles and growing digital media consumption will continue to drive key advertising innovations – and it isn’t slowing down.

About our contributor // Cameron Rambert is a Melbourne-based digital media and technology enthusiast with a background in startup commercialisation and digital strategy. Follow him @cameronrambert.

Image credit: Maichou

The 4 types of freelancers and how to know which one you are — November 3, 2013

The 4 types of freelancers and how to know which one you are

owl

Don’t let the Zen masters fool you – making a decent living from freelancing is a seriously tough gig.

Despite its intoxicating allure of professional independence and moderate increase in the consumption of long macchiatos, as a freelancer you’ll soon discover that the nature of dealing with ambiguous clients, the constant mutual misunderstanding of expectations and occasional succumbing to horrifyingly unreasonable rates are enough to abandon the prospect of freedom entirely.

Fortunately, these can be mitigated. As a freelancer myself and often sometimes an employer of other freelancers, I’ve recognized that the freelancers who prosper the most are the ones who recognize tailor their entire marketing strategy and personal brand around a particular freelance ‘type’ – one that best encapsulates their personal characteristics and abilities. Sounds logical right? Like most things, it is easier said than done.

1. The Grinder

The grinder is your hardcore workhorse. The guy or gal or who likes ticking boxes and can churn out large quantities of output at a low margin or rate – it’s as if they live and breathe volume. Grinders excel at low-end administrative/management like-tasks, working to rigid structures and streamlining their operations so that the client gets exactly what they asked for at the rate specified.

If you’re the grinding type you should look for jobs where the expectations and task requirements are explicit and straight forward – the scope should not be something that requires much negotiation. Seek to set straightforward payment terms and establish rates where efficiencies can be rewarded. The beauty about grinders is that the funnel seems to always be full for them – there is always a demand for them in virtually any industry.

Beware: creative types will tend to lose their minds when stuck in a grinder-like role.

2. The Specialist

The Specialist is the master of his or her trade who has grinded long enough to know what they are good at, identified a professional niche and has taken the time to hone their craft. Specialists are Grinders with expertise and clout – professional fixers who can produce wizard-like solutions that their clients could only dream of doing.

With Specialists, it’s all about ‘the work’. They have the ability to set the bar for the quality of their output, dictate the terms of their involvement and charge a premium on their efforts.

If you’re the specialist type however, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In a world of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ and ‘specialists’ the only selling point you really have at the end of the day is your history of delivering results that supersede client expectations.

Depending on your networks and industry, specialists can have either a very narrow or deep pipeline of potential clients as work can either be too specialized or too infrequent in its requirement. You have to love what you do.

3. The Diagnostician

The Diagnostician is exactly how it sounds. Diagnosticians love to take control of the room, diagnose a situation and prescribe a creative solution that plays to their strengths and still satisfy the client’s objectives. Examples of diagnosticians are high level advisors, consultants and strategists. They are the ones people call when they fear something bad might happen.

The chilling factor about Diagnosticians is that they thrive on a customer’s pain. Whether a business is bleeding cash, a website completely stops generating traffic (thanks, Google Humminbird) or when customers simply disappear, the diagnostician should be ahead of the curve – to know the client’s pain before it hits, or to be front and center with a solution when the pin actually drops. This is particularly useful for industries or fields that evolve constantly.

Diagnosticians should be wary of over-diagnosing or over-analyzing a situation. Clients don’t really like hearing about every little thing that is wrong with their product or business and Diagnosticians should be wary of falling into the trap of seeing problems that aren’t really there.

4. The Professional Polymath

The Professional Polymath is your jack and occasionally master of all trades. Whenever a client has a project that requires neatly packaged service all rolled into one, the Professional Polymath is their answer.

Professional Polymaths often have the ability to see the wider context – the big picture – to every task or required job function which serves well in developing long-term client relationships and establishing alignment with them.

If you’re a Professional Polymath, chances are you’re naturally intuitive, creative and can help the client see a breadth of opportunities beyond what’s merely on the surface. You can present a myriad of creative options to a single problem thanks to your ability to see related project dependencies and draw on abstract ideas.

Professional Polymaths can get too caught up in the creative side of the relationship and avoid making decisions that require immediate action. Being good at many things results in not being ‘masterful’ at anything and hence lack the ability to specialize. They should work with clients who are entrepreneurial in nature and who are looking to establish a long-term relationship from the outset.

Conclusion

Determining which freelancer type you are is critical to both to your personal success and wellbeing. Once discovered, you’ll start translating this newfound self-awareness into literally everything you do. The skills you need to learn, the relationships you need to build, whom you need to target as a potential customer and those you need to simply say ‘no thanks’ to are all elements you can positively affect.

About our contributor // Cameron Rambert is a Melbourne-based digital media and technology enthusiast with a background in startup commercialisation and digital strategy. Follow him @cameronrambert.

Image credit: Ashley Percival

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