Interview with e-Miles CEO; Rewarding Consumers for Their Attention

September 1, 2009 · 0 comments

Today I came across an interesting interview on SmartPlanet with Hal Brierley, inventor of the first frequent flier program (AAdvantage from American Airlines) and currently the CEO of the e-Miles program.
E-Miles’ model only charges advertisers when members show proof of engagement — they have to view an offer and then answer 5 questions about it before they earn a reward (and at that point, the advertiser is charged). I found it interesting that Brierley says that e-Miles decided on the 5 miles per offer award because they didn’t find a better response rate when offering a higher amount — not even when they offered triple that.
He says that e-Miles (launched in November 2006) has over 2 million members with an average age of 42, 75% home owners, 75% college graduates, with a $100,000+ income. And oddly enough, e-Miles’ biggest challenge, says Brierley, is finding advertisers (a complaint recently shared by competitor YouData).
This is something I just don’t understand. I don’t know YouData’s average demographic but at least in the case of e-Miles, these are THE PEOPLE whose attention most companies would kill to get. And Brierley says that the “paying customers for their attention” model has proven to be successful in increasing brand awareness and intent to purchase.
I think corporations are totally missing an opportunity here. Rather than blowing through their marketing budget by paying for search engine placement, broadcast, print, and banner ads, companies have the opportunity with sites like e-Miles and YouData to target ads to specific demographics, to ONLY pay when the consumer is engaged with the message, and to make consumers/potential customers feel that their opinions and time are valued…a reward that (one would hope) would lead to brand recognition, goodwill, and loyalty.
In a recession, can corporations really afford to NOT try out a promising new marketing avenue?

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