Digital Marketing 2011: Spatial Marketing

Spatial marketing isn't anything new or revolutionary in the offline world. It's common sense. Book shops put their best sellers* in standup displays by the door and the checkout, supermarkets put their impulse buys right where you queue and every now and then whole shops change their interior design to encourage you to walk around and discover new products.

We've not really had this in the online world.

Sure, okay, we've had “above the line” style of commentary, taking the expression from the old fashioned style of advertising to refer to whether someone needs to scroll down or not to access content, review an ad or otherwise interact.

The truth, though, is that people are quite happy to scroll. Let's park the debate about the value of banner ads on parts of the website where people might not see them and label that as something else. I'm talking about a would-be shopper's ability to scroll down in order to look for reviews on an item.

Of course they can. As our Usability team often point out to me; people look where they expect things to be.

That's going to be increasingly important in digital marketing. We're going to go very far beyond the simple act of scrolling down a page too.

Let's start with Google. BumpTop is now part of Google and no one will be surprised to see it as a part of Chrome OS. BumpTop is a 3D desktop. It's not new. Their famous YouTube video, up since 2006, has had over 3 million views on YouTube.

Just a few seconds into video you'll be able to see how this would change how you store and save documents. Forget clicking through C: drives or networks. Instead you'll remember that your favourite templates are in the top left or that your favourite shortcuts to webpages are in the bottom right. Isn't that how you find things on your desk already? You can see it there and you know which direction to reach for your phone even if you're not looking at it.

This may seem a bit like future tech to you – but it really isn't. There are simpler, closer to the consumer, digital spatial technologies you should consider. Firefox, for example, is working on Tab Candy.

This is another much watch video. The implications for digital marketing are clear and profound.

Imagine the impact this will have on website loyalty? Once a shopaholic has created their panel of favourite retail websites they're going to go back there far more often. It'll be a challenge for any new retailer to win their way into that shopper's list of favourites.

We'll start to care much more about how and where people save the web sites and profiles we are promoting. We'll not want to be bottom of the pile. We'll want to have a dominant space in people's virtual internet homes.

You shouldn't imagine this technology will be restricted to the desktop, laptop or tablet either. With the likes of Google TV coming (with Sony PlayStation as a partner) and more content being available through Xbox Live even our 42” giant screens that dominate our living rooms will be included in the spatial marketing evolution.

* They're not really bestsellers, publishers pay good money to buy those advert slots.

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