From the mid-20th century heyday of the "Mad Men" era to an ecosystem dominated by "Math Men & Women" today, the advertising industry has always sat alongside, and facilitated, some of the most successful companies in the world.
With our well-documented evolution to a global economy where consumer data is more valuable than oil, the companies who own the most data are the most powerful, and profitable. Indeed, the more data that companies hold on individual consumers, the more attractive the consumers become as targets for advertising. Platforms which harvest a multitude of data points on individuals can, with the right technology, offer purchasing and engagement opportunities not only to meet their needs but to preempt them.
Advertising guru Rory Sutherland commented on the death of "spray and pray" campaigns in a 2018 interview, "You should look at the purchase process [or outcome process] first, optimize that, and only when you've removed any bottlenecks or snags in that last mile should you proceed upstream to advertising." So as advertising changes to a model where a genuine understanding of an individual consumer's needs are the table stakes, the non-data driven mechanics of old have less and less relevance.
Location, Location, Location
One company who has pivoted effectively to a model built around advanced personalization is UK based mobile technology firm Mobsta. They started life in 2010 as a premium mobile advertising business, delivering campaigns across an exclusive network of entertainment publisher sites, and using proximity targeting to reach users as they shopped. Denise Breslin, Mobsta co-founder and managing director, explains how their pivot to leveraging advanced location data came about. "As the market matured, we quickly realized the value of accurate location data, and the potential it offered agencies and their clients in terms of audience targeting, location-verified media delivery, and post-campaign measurement."