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Stories Behind the Apps

Mobile Analytics: Moving Beyond Mobile Personas

The trend in mobile marketing analytics is to define personas, but the true power in the mobile device is deciphering the actions a person takes on their mobile device to understand the real needs and wants of the individual.

I recall a conversation I had early last year with a friend who was an expert in marketing.  He spent a great deal of time educating me on the voluminous amounts of information available, some 847 attributes that could be used through a combination of data mining efforts to derive the personas of all the people who lived in the individual homes in our neighborhood.  When questioned further, I was able to determine that the best he could do was to define the persona (or in his parlance – “clones”).

The problem with Personas is that they are a generalization that is NOT based on AUTHENTICITY. 

Early in my life I had an experience that helped to define my outlook on this topic.  When I was younger, I wasn’t as responsible as I am today, although there are others who might argue the point.  This particular experience took place with an Iowa State Trooper in the Driver License Services Bureau when I was called in to discuss the state of my driving privileges going forward.  It seems that the State of Iowa had little tolerance for 8 speeding tickets in a twelve – month period, and this just following my 18th birthday. The State Trooper spent a considerable length of time discussing my driving record.  Instead of focusing on my Nascar worthy skill in exceeding the speed limit, he focused on the number of times I had been caught, a different data point.  At the end of the lecture, er, I mean, discussion…he told me something that has stuck with me all of my adult life.

He said “you are the statistic…” Meaning, I was the one out of 1000 individuals who would likely die in a fiery car crash prior to the age of 25.  I was the one who would end up in prison because I would end up driving the getaway car.  I was the one…I was the one…I was the one.

Throughout my life, I have been the one, but not the way the DMV’s data set would define me.  The DMV defined me according to a persona of a criminal, but I have defined myself through my actions, as a successful husband, father and entrepreneur

The mobile device is the singular device that defines an individual, through their day-to-day and minute-by-minute actions.  When I take the time to spend my time, my storage, or my money downloading an app for my device, that mixture of apps defines my true interests.  I am no longer a statistic or a persona.  I am me.  And in unlocking that information, the data set that follows can enable a richer experience for each user through the use of data mining, data analysis and predictive analytics.