Database Marketing

Back in June 2004, Reason Magazine printed a custom cover for every issue of their magazine (circulation: 40,000). Each subscriber received a magazine with a satellite photo of their neighborhood on the cover, and their home circled in red. An uncomfortable surprise to find in your mailbox, for sure.

More recently, Chris Milk and Google created the interactive musical experience The Wilderness Downtown for Arcade Fire, which utilized HTML5 and Google Maps to put your house directly into the music video.

Hybrid production company B-Reel, who also worked on The Wilderness Downtown, just finished Chaos in Your Town for State Farm Insurance. The experience uses the same “enter your address” starting point to create a customized version of The Mill’s “State of Chaos” campaign. We’ll see if giant robots shooting lasers at your house proves as successful as their last viral hit — OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” music video.

The New York Times article on the Reason Magazine stunt ends with the quote, “What if you received a magazine that only had stories and ads that you were interested in and pertained to you?” Seven years later, we have RSS readers that bring us only the news we want and iPad apps like FlipBoard and Zite. Not so far off.

For custom content, the inevitable next step is not having to type in your address at all. The applications would just read your computer’s IP address or your mobile device’s GPS location and auto-populate their content with the pertinent data. How hard would it be to have your cable box “know” where it is, and have the commercial streaming to your television integrate your Google Map imagery?

We’re curious to hear your thoughts on how successful this technology is as a marketing tool. How about as a storytelling tool? Will it become another expected facet of production (in the same way we’re often asked to produce complementary TV commercials, internet banners and print ads)? Does anyone find it disconcerting to have their data used to market to them?