Using personalisation & contextualisation to get real business value out of digital

Digital is all about making it your own. People can download the apps they want, decide who they connect with on social networking platforms or create lists of products they want to buy. Digital experiences are improved immeasurably when the information a user wants is presented up front. While this personalisation is important, the future for digital experiences is for them to become contextualised as well. By doing this they evolve into useful business tools, which can increase sales, loyalty and everything in between.

Media agencies and publishers have been contextualising information for the past couple of years. For example, they know that ads for a convertible car will do better on a sunny day than a rainy one. With the possibilities digital brings, it’s surprising that so few brands are recognising and taking advantage of the different signals that can be used to make digital experiences both contextual and personal to the user.

Collaboration between different departments to determine the right signals and inputs is key to creating more circumstantially relevant experiences. These signals must then be combined with the brand, design and user experience to deliver real business objectives. I’ve listed my top things to consider to create more personal and contextual digital experiences.


Devices are now harder to categorise. Is a large phone considered a more of a tablet or a small tablet considered more of a phone? Instead of just relying on responsive design, it’s important to look at how the users will interact with the different devices. Focusing on screen size alone will only tell part of the story.

Location and environment

Experiences can be tailored to the user based on their geographic location. In-store, near a store, moving and at home are just a few of the many inputs that can dictate how location can change the experience to become more useful.


Time of day, time zone, season and other real worlds can help make an experience feel really relevant to the end user. The situation is also a great signal that will help to dictate the type of content.


It’s imperative for brands to develop a strategy to take advantage of their own data as well as the 3rd party data available. Although it is important to not over step and infringe upon privacy that knows way too much (no one likes the ad that follows you around the internet for 10 days because you looked at one article of clothing).

Sector specific thoughts towards relevant digital experience is also vital. A number of brands have started to realise that by partnering their industry knowledge with the signals being sent out by their customers they can create truly contextualised experiences.

One such example of a brand beginning to explore context is L’Oréal. Its Make Up Genius app uses augmented reality to create a personalised experience aiding the trial of different make-up products prior to purchase in real time. The facial mapping technology is able to capture 64 facial data points and 100 unique facial expressions while working in over 400 different lighting conditions.

The future can be an exciting one for digital experiences, but it means data, technology, user experience, design, and digital strategy all being aligned to achieve business goals.