In 1982, R.R. Donnelley and Farm Journal pioneered a new dimension of publishing known as Selectronic Binding.
“Farm Journal is perhaps most famous in the magazine industry for our selectronic binding innovation-we know the profiles of our readers from our database and can use that information to produce tailored issues of the magazine that are specific to reader demographics,” says Hillgren. “We were the very first magazine with that capability.”
Selectronic binding also was instrumental in the decision to take livestock-specific sections out of the magazine and create new stand-alone publications, including Dairy Today and Beef Today.
“When Farm Journal was created, farmers were more alike in size and raised a wide variety of crops and livestock. But the thrust of the 20th century was specialization. That’s why selectronic binding became so important,” says Hillgren. “As farmers specialized, we had the capability to target editorial and advertising and eventually provide livestock publications to serve them.”
Since that time, major strides have been made in print technology. But for as much as our family shops at Kohl’s – I have never seen an ounce of personalization in their mailings. Our Lands’End, Chadwicks, Paul Fredrick’s catalogs all have a generalized look. We may be getting targeted versions, but if so, I see no connection with the offerings and what we buy from them.
Further, the web promised us individualized sites matching our tastes. How are we doing? After 20+ years of browsing, I still have to tell Google (almost each and every search) to limit the time frame to 1 year for technology related queries. ESPN gives me a choice of teams I can follow but doesn’t even let me block sports which I don’t like (ie. NBA). PGAtour continues to offer me the scores on Web Tour, LPGA and a host of other things I’d rather never see. I have a personal rule against EVER visiting Amazon except for books. I get re-targeted perpetually for items I accidentally visited – long after I bought them on ebay.
Feel free to write on how you were targeted with an offer – 5 minutes before you realized you needed it – and you immediately bought it without considering the price because the merchant so precisely predicted your needs, desires and/or unknown fantasies. I would love to hear one good story.
The sadest part of my experience is that I know companies are spending millions of dollars each year trying to fill their data lakes with enough to achieve this nirvana predicted 35 years ago. At the same time, I have written and called my phone company a dozen times asking them to offer a 4.5” phone option – I don’t want a pocket wide-screen TV.
Perhaps BIGdata is a cover for – “we know so much about you, we do not have to listen to you at all.” As a BIGdata pioneer and practitioner – quit embarrassing your company and annoying your customers by this guessing. Instead, ship the stuff I order, answer your phone (if you even list a phone number… respond to email and/or twitter, etc.) and LISTEN.
I am not saying you cannot find ‘eureka’ info in BIGdata… but for most companies, with fewer than a dozen analysts – you’ll get there much quicker with list, offer and product testing. Feel free to comment or call.