I think it's fascinating how we're seeing the development of more ad products and formats that are specifically designed to take the context provided by activity in one place and apply it to enhancing value in another place. Google have really been the masters of this idea, taking all kinds of contextual data from one area of the vertical stack, like Google+, Gmail and other Google services, to develop improved capabilties in other core products/areas such as search (including more personalised search results, exemplified by projects like Search Plus Your World).
Google+, Facebook Connect, Twitter sign-in are all part of the giant looming battle for identity on the web of-course (more on that another time), with the log-in being a key part of enabling the smart collection and reapplication of data-driven enhancement to services. I talk a lot about this idea of contextual data, joining stuff up, and this concept of taking value from one customer touchpoint (e.g. browsing behaviour on your website) and applying it to enhance experience at another (e.g. CRM and email).
But it's notable how we're starting to see ad products that are better at fusing data of this kind and enabling this exchange to be as seamless as possible. A simple example is search retargeting which serves up display advertising based on previous search activity. Twitter's new TV ad targeting product enables advertisers to target promoted tweets at people on Twitter who are likely to have seen their TV ads by logging the shows during which an advertiser’s ads are appearing, and then all the people on Twitter who are Tweeting about those same shows. Combining that data allows the advertiser to target promoted Tweets at all the users who are likely to have seen their ads, carrying engagement through from TV to more content, or perhaps a lead generation card. Facebook Custom Audiences means that advertisers can fuse their CRM data with the platform to target specific groups of their customers on Facebook. Twitter are rumoured to be doing the same thing. The new Partner Categories product similarly takes third party data from other sources and powers targeting on Facebook.
None of this stuff is completely new or yet perfect of-course (display retargeting being a great example), but the more pertinent point is that it is the combination of distributed and destination thinking that seems to come more naturally to such 'digitally-native' organisations that has enabled the scale for Google, Facebook, Twitter et al to really make this work.
Image: Jackson Pollock, Convergence 1952