“We’ve lost sight of what our industry is all about”


Bubbl CEO Jo Eckersley on why it’s high time we re-focus our energies on the original purpose of the marketing industry – to provide goods or services that meet customers needs.

When I set out to establish a career for myself in marketing, I was drawn in by what are now considered the old-fashioned principles of earning trust, building relationships and loyalty. Treat your customer with respect and you will have a fan for life. Give them something they value or that makes life easier and they’ll come back to you time and again.

25 years later I’ve watched with increasing despair at how this core purpose is being eroded in the face of an increasing obsession with data, impressions and technology. It feels as though we’re at a crossroads that could make or break our ability as an industry to genuinely connect with real people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for technology – I’d be a pretty poor tech CEO if I wasn’t! – but it feels as though we have been increasingly distracted by the noise of data, the ability to ‘prove’ our success through metrics alone and the assumption that the value of our craft can be measured by a large statistic or number in the brand engagement box.

If we continue to focus on serving irrelevant ads via digitally defined segments to hit arbitrary quotas, we deserve to be doomed to a future dominated by ad blockers.

This frustration was the genesis behind my company Bubbl. I want marketers to look beyond simply pushing a message at an increasingly bewildered or frustrated person and instead look at how much technology has enabled us to service our customers better and make real connections with them.

Our geotargeting tech connects brands with customers at a point of genuine need – and enables them to deliver a message, survey, content, service or experience that enhances their life. That might be telling your customer that your store is selling umbrellas just around the corner as it starts to rain. Or giving an exclusive preview of a new track as you walk into the O2 to see Rhianna or a discount code for merchandise you can buy in one click as you leave along with a real time transport update (and perhaps signposting to another umbrella shop!). It might be about asking for genuine feedback because you know that customer or fan was definitely at your restaurant or event.

Instead of starting from the perspective of ‘what can I tell this person about me?’, I want businesses to begin by thinking ‘how can I make this person’s life easier?’. Geotargeting technology will revolutionise the way marketers connect brands to people because it puts this kind of thinking front and centre.

Our technology lets your brand behave like the village shop keeper who knows what everyone wants because they understand the pattern of their lives – their habits, their motivations, their drivers – not because they’ve been stealing their identity or snooping through their backdoor but because they have a real relationship. If they’re passing you in the morning, you know they’ll be interested to hear about your coffee promotion. If it’s lunchtime, you know they’ll be looking ahead to the evening and want to know the best place to watch the footie or get last minute tickets for a show nearby.

I’m committed to putting customers at the heart of our technology by facilitating a rewarding experience that provides services and creates connections. In the wake of GDPR, it feels like now is the time revert back to good old-fashioned marketing values and put the customer back in charge.