Asos on the shortfalls of Amazon and Netflix-style personalisation

Great personalisation cannot be too reliant on analysing a consumer’s past behaviours, according to Asos.

Even though Netflix and Amazon are held up by many as among the greats when it comes to digital personalisation, their reliance on studying the past behaviour of consumers also has its shortfalls.

Speaking at the Market Research Society’s Impact conference today (15 March), Celina Burnett, head of marketing analytics at online fashion retailer Asos, claimed there’s just as much marketers can learn from what the two digital giants are getting wrong.

She explained: “When I go on Netflix I want to receive personalised recommendations but also to have balance on what shows I am missing out on. Sometimes it just feels like the recommendations I receive on Netflix or Amazon are based on things I’ve done in the past but not on what I might do in the future. If all we offer a consumer is based on their past behaviour then how do we make them aware of what the next big trend is?

“Netflix and Amazon are held up as great examples of personalisation and targeting but they are part of markets – so ecommerce and streaming – that are naturally individual so perhaps it’s easier for them to shine than, say, a brand involved in finance.”

READ MORE: Mobile now accounts for 50% of sales at Asos

According to Burnett those who maintain a “traditional surveying” mentality when it comes to targeting will become “obsolete”. While she admitted achieving consistency around targeting on mass social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter was an “issue”, she said ultimately focusing on experience would ensure quality.

If all we offer a consumer is based on their past behaviour then how do we make them aware of what the next big trend is?

Celina Burnett, Asos

She advised: “There is a tipping point for personalisation and targeting when it can become creepy or annoying and actually ends up making people distrust a brand.

“The best way to avoid that and to maintain a balance is to ensure your end goal is about delivering the right consumer experience above anything else.”

Burnett was speaking on a panel alongside Alex Pettitt, who is one of the most popular broadcasters on Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope. He said consumers are much more likely to be open to targeting and giving up their data if a brand proves its value first.

He concluded: “You have to provide value if you want something in return. Social media isn’t about me but we. Brands shouldn’t use it as a broadcast platform to promote how good they are but as a way to build a loyal community. Ultimately, this will create an exchange where a brand and its followers spend their time rewarding one another.”

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
  • Pete Austin 16 Mar 2017 at 8:45 am

    I agree that personalizing based on your own behaviour is not enough. Particularly for new visitors, the site has too little data on your tastes. And when you’re a regular viewer who has binge-watched all the movies starring your favorite actors, what now?

    One simple solution is to mix in other types of recommendations based on crowdsourced data, for example “people who are looking at this film went on to watch these”, “people similar to you liked these films”, or simply trending titles.

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