Personal Digital Twins Look Like the Answer for Marketers

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Marketing algorithms today do not account for the objectives of individuals, and a viable alternative is a new marketing technology called personal digital twins (PDTs), Forrester Research asserts in a recent report.

PDTs, the report says, will allow consumers to optimize content and communications with companies based on their goals and, by extension, enable marketers to efficiently deliver personalization at scale while simultaneously reducing privacy risks. This is in stark contrast to the traditional marketing algorithms, which the report says are optimized for business objectives, such as increasing revenue, maximizing clicks, and reducing cost, rather than for consumers’ goals. 

The report defines an algorithm as a set of rules and operations optimized for a specific outcome, and a PDT as an algorithm that is owned by an individual and optimized for his personal objectives. It goes on to say that PDTs filter out content that is counterproductive to those objectives and identify opportunities that support them.

“The individual…has the rights to [the PDT’s] use, and she decides what objectives it is optimized for. In the same way that a business might hire an analytics firm to build a next-best-offer model, the individual would hire a PDT service provider to build her a model to help her meet her objectives,” explains Fatemeh Khatibloo, principal analyst serving B2C marketing professionals at Forrester and author of the report.

As an example, a person looking to buy a home in the next 12 months might also want to get in shape for the summer and see more of a friend who has moved a few towns over. The PDT filters content and offers based on these objectives, first providing mortgage information from banks, following it up with an ad for a new gym, and then syncing calendars with the friend’s PDT to find a mutually convenient time for them to meet. A local restaurant could even send them both a timely offer.

Although she notes that no companies currently offer a complete PDT solution, Khatibloo says a number of companies have built “bits and pieces.” One such company is Meeco, which allows users to access, control, and share personal data on their own terms. Another is Datacoup, which enables users to unlock the value of their personal data via a personal data marketplace.

But consumers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from PDTs. The technology could also help marketers reach the right level of customer obsession, reduce waste, increase customer lifetime value (CLV), and protect against privacy missteps, the report says. 

PDTs will enable organizations to align their business objectives with customer needs. More specifically, marketers will be able to determine when they are missing opportunities based on how PDTs filter their content. The report says that in this way, PDTs will comprise the largest customer panel possible.

PDTs can reduce waste by allowing marketers to get more efficient as the cost of reaching customers and prospects increases. The report goes on to say that the current model of targeting and personalization is designed for scale but not efficiency, and that PDTs allow consumers to signal intention, need, and desire, thereby enabling more efficient marketing investment.

For increasing CLV, the report asserts that by definition, organizations can only maximize CLV if they have a complete, holistic understanding of their customers, which it says is a pipe dream for most organizations. PDTs, by contrast, will indicate when specific consumers are in the market for a particular product or service, where they are in the customer life cycle, and which channels they prefer, allowing marketers to deploy tailored, short- and long-term contact strategies.

Marketers can protect against privacy missteps by operating in a consent-based ecosystem, the report goes on to say.

“Our industry is suffering from a crisis of consumer trust. We have innovated faster than social norms can develop, and the level of frustration people feel at invasive, stalker-ish marketing and advertising is only increasing. The data explosion has benefited industry far more than it has people, and it’s time we start to balance that a little. The personal digital twin is a concept whose time has come. It will benefit businesses, create new markets, and restore trust to the consumer-business relationship,” Khatibloo says. 

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