Internet Strategy

Interruption Marketing People Will Love

Steve Wolgemuth | May 8, 2013

My Uncle Alvin was born in the 1940s and lived through two waves of skinny jeans being the “in” fashion. Growing up I heard tales of his desperate struggles just to get pants on in the morning. My uncle Alvin could have been a regular character on the hit show set in the 1950s, “Happy Days.” And I’m even old enough to have lived through two seasons of hip-huggers. Granted, I didn’t have my underwear pulled up and my pants pulled down, but we did wear ’em low in my senior year of high school. It’s funny how things come around in cycles.

But one really ugly trend I never thought would become more popular is “interruption marketing.” What I mean by that are all the myriad commercials on live televisions that are driving more of us to Netflix and HuluPlus, pop-ups on websites that move us to install pop-up blocking software, and general poor return on investment on any marketing dollar spent to irritate someone with a brand message. I’ve always pictured unwanted advertising of any sort to be on a steady downward trend because, frankly, we all hate it. With the onset of more information and SPAM (in many forms) that’s coming our way, we’ll hate it even more. And no one hates it more than me. In fact, if someone comes to my door (work or home) with an unscheduled meeting, sale, or promotional agenda, they won’t get my attention. In fact, they’ll have to work a very long time for me to ever consider them or their cause in a positive way. I hate to be interrupted.

But that’s about to change, even for me, because of predictive technologies like Google Now. We’ll all be seeing more predictive technologies creep into on our smartphones and mobile devices in the future. These technologies will be based on where we are, what we typically do, and what our needs are at that specific time and place.

Imagine your car is running low on gas and you’re about to get onto a limited access road, when suddenly, your phone interrupts you to suggest that you stop for gas at the Exxon station just a half mile from your current location. Imagine being interrupted on your way home from work when your phone (and integrated car) suggests that you stop to get flowers for your spouse as it is your anniversary, and then it provides directions to a nearby flower shop that happens to have a special on pink roses, which are her favorite.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready to warm up to interruption marketing. It’s SPAM that I’ll actually enjoy because it’s not really SPAM at all. Why? Because it is customized and relevant. While I’m still uncomfortable with the thought of my phone being a more thoughtful spouse than I am, I recognize the impact that this technology development will again have on marketing, especially for localized business models.

Businesses need to be preparing for that trend, even now before it has become mainstream. But this isn’t marketing as usual. It requires detailed attention and specific off-website local optimization expertise. There is no better time than now for a business to pay close attention to all things related to their online profile that tell search engines where they’re located. It’s time to audit their business’s NAP/W information and to build citations. It’s time to pay even more attention to contextual and mobile interaction with their brand. When timely, useful interruptions become mainstream and the businesses who are on most prepared will win with style, no matter what they’re wearing.