2016 Predictions for Contextual Marketing
3. We Will Move Out of the Uncanny Valley
In robotics, there is a concept called the “uncanny valley.” As robotics designers began constructing humanoid robots, they noticed that when robots looked like piles of metal, people were comfortable with them. However, as robots’ appearance became more lifelike, people started disliking the design.
At a certain point, something in our psychology seems to say, “This just isn’t right.” That trepidation came to be known as the uncanny valley — a steep drop-off in affinity for robots as they start to look more like humans. Interestingly enough, when robots perfectly mirror human appearance and mannerisms, affinity returns.
Modern marketing has some of the same characteristics. The more companies know about us — particularly information we didn’t explicitly give them — the more weirded out we become. However, omnichannel marketing is becoming more common and data proliferation is much better understood by consumers today than it was even five years ago. Now, receiving a push notification that umbrellas are on sale just as it starts to rain isn’t as shocking or off-putting as it once might have been.
Nevertheless, companies must still commit to security, privacy, transparency and opt-in only programs to preserve consumer trust. Eventually, customers won’t know why they are receiving a message, but it will be so useful in that moment they won’t really care.