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Third Spaces: The New Marketing Opportunity

As we move from a mobile-first world to a mobile-only world, consumers are increasingly rejecting any irrelevant messages to their personal devices. At the same time, consumers want brands to be useful; in fact, 75% of consumers expect brands to contribute to their quality of life (Havas Media).

So how can brands be useful without interrupting the consumer journey?

The latest innovations in mobile, geo-location and digital out-of-home technology are enabling brands to target previously invisible consumer moments. These are the transient moments in a consumer’s daily life–or ‘third spaces’–between impulse and action.

The concept of ‘third spaces’ is inspired by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s ‘Third Places’–a term describing the locations people visit between home and work, where they interact with their surroundings and are open to new connections. These physical and emotional third spaces offer huge untapped marketing opportunities for brands in every industry.

Where Is The Third Space?
Third spaces can be created around specific locations, environments, intents or moods, and offer huge opportunities for personalised, in-the-moment marketing.

The key to identifying these opportunities is to understand your consumer’s journey beyond the traditional customer moments. Look for “in-between” moments, and work out what value and utility you could add to make that moment more meaningful.

This is where insight proves invaluable. Contextual data enables brands to see and access a number of such in-between moments in a consumer’s day, as well as their emotional states and between-media moments. Marketers should look to gather data around these and see what patterns might emerge.

A great example of targeting the third space comes from American multinational energy corporation Chevron. Last year Chevron enrolled 14,000 new members to its mobile loyalty programme Afanity using a well-placed geofencing promotion (the use of GPS or other location-aware technology to create a virtual geographic boundary). Using its sponsorship of the US National Football League, the brand constructed geolocation sign-in areas at more than 7,500 Chevron and Texaco petrol stations across 16 states, as well as a selection of professional and college football stadiums. Users could earn and redeem loyalty points at any of these locations, and use them to fill up their cars or deck themselves out in team memorabilia.

According to Chevron, over 36% of these consumers said Afanity Rewards influenced them to visit stations more frequently.

It’s Not Just Physical Locations
Finding ways to surprise and delight consumers when they least expect it can hold real value for marketers and their brands. And this can apply to mood too. Yahoo’s Receptivity of Emotions study recently highlighted that reaching consumers in the right mood could make digital ads 40% more effective.

Increased access to public and anonymised crowd data is enabling brands to understand and respond to individual moods in real time like never before. Last year US food manufacturer Mars demonstrated how to leverage consumer emotion on a large scale through The Snickers Hungerithm.

Tying a promotion campaign to the public’s temper levels, as judged by Australian Twitter feeds, the algorithm analysed instances of swearing, angry emoji and the like. The price of a Snickers bar was updated every 10 minutes; the angrier Australian Twitter got, the cheaper a Snickers became. Visitors to the Hungerithm’s microsite could receive a mobile coupon for the current price, which they could then take to a participating 7-Eleven convenience store for their discounted hit of calming chocolate.

Full Transparency Required
Accumulative data sets and tools that analyse user behaviour are making personal moods accessible for the first time. However, they are to be approached with caution; other than public and anonymised data, individual information is highly sensitive. To use it, brands need to exercise full transparency.

Marketing is already a dynamic, increasingly personalised process, reflecting the always on-the-go nature of the digital consumer’s daily journey. The more seamlessly and instinctively brands integrate into consumers’ everyday lives, the more effective they’ll be at targeting their needs and anticipating their intentions.

Strategies that prioritise personal needs cut through. Chevron discovered downtime at gas stations, while Mars used data to uncover a marketing opportunity around an emotion (anger) brands would typically avoid. No matter what industry you operate in, your consumer’s daily journey can create any number of transient moments of intent and desire that can be made meaningful and engaging.

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