Walking the Thin Line Between Ad Relevance & Privacy
Consumers don’t treat privacy logically. They are wary of brands tapping into their mobile phones to eavesdrop on their conversations, yet willingly overshare just about everything on social media.
And despite existing and incoming privacy legislation in most U.S. states, the EU and even device-led like Apple, brands have a good deal of latitude in how they target consumers. It is critical that brands avoid overstepping when it comes to privacy.
Commit to Transparency
Studies show that consumers are less wary of personalized advertising if they know how their information was obtained and what it’s being used for.
In a Harvard Business Review experiment, when online shoppers were told that an ad was based on their on-site shopping activity, the ad’s performance jumped significantly – CTR by 11%, and revenue for the advertised product by 38%.
The takeaway for advertisers is to consider explaining how personalized advertising works, and demonstrate how it can be genuinely helpful.
Take it a step further than the AdChoices icon; build an easily-accessibly page on your website devoted to data collection, for example. The goal is to educate consumers on the original intent behind personalized advertising and help remove its nefarious stigma.
Brand messages have power that shouldn’t be abused. Avoid targeting members of a specific race or sexual orientation, or those with medical conditions, for example. These are sensitive topics. Fortunately, most media providers automatically ban this type of targeting.
Instead, use it for good. Proper targeting is about solving a consumer need. It can also be altruistic.
If your brand can offer help to a disaster-struck neighborhood (food, water bottles, etc.), target mobile ads there letting residents know where they can find help.
Consider Traditional Targeting
If your brand or product caters to audiences of specific race or ethnicity, utilize traditional media buys. Planning media based on a channel’s own assertion of its demographic has worked for decades, and it still does.
You can also let consumers tell you what they like directly. This can be achieved through third party techniques, like surveys, and even first-party data gathering – think Netflix’s “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” feature. Point being, not all consumer data has to come from third party surveillance.
With ads becoming more tailored to individuals – and big data growing bigger – we’ve reached the confluence of relevant ad targeting and privacy infringement.
The key is to not violate consumers’ trust. Ultimately that trust is the greatest motivation for purchase, and through transparency and responsibility in ad targeting, consumers have less reason to fear what brands are doing with their personal data.