I’ll admit it, I can be a bit self-centered sometimes, but I’m going go out on a limb here and suggest that so are most people. I’m not the first person to say it and I won’t be the last: people are very into themselves. We like to think that the world revolves around us. Perhaps it’s a biological thing? Maybe a feature that sets us apart from other organisms on the planet? Whatever it is, this idea of us being into ourselves shouldn’t be ignored, especially when discussing online advertising.
Now that we’ve established how into yourself you are, just think how much you would love it if things were created especially for you. How great would it be to have a suit that tailors itself to your body when you try it on? A car that molds to the shape of your backside? A shower that knows your favorite temperature? We like specializing our environment to our individual tastes so why should it be any different with online advertising? Whether people realize it or not, they are programmed to be attracted to the things they are attracted to with or without a full understanding as to why. We like being around the things we like. In the same regard, people are naturally more interested in advertisements that have relevance to their life and what they like.
Data-based behavioral targeting is the result of the natural progression of online advertising. The brilliant minds of the industry have created tools and technologies that tap into the basic human desire to be recognized as an individual. However, right now there are a lot of negative discussions about data-driven online advertising and even some attempts to ban it altogether. Some people and organizations think that it’s creepy that online advertisements can be smart and relevant to potential customers. One could form the opinion that such negative views exist primarily because there are too many dramatized, one-sided news articles written by authors selfishly motivated to gain more exposure and page views for themselves by inspiring fear, concern, and confusion. In all reality, most people surfing around the Internet don’t understand that while yes, advertisers have a certain amount of information about their website visits, advertisers don’t have the information tied to their personal identity, and that they are still anonymous.
The fact is, I want to receive targeted and relevant advertisements and deep down so do most people. I want to receive retargeted ads and keyword post-search retargeted ads based on the websites I have visited and the keywords I have previously searched. I want to see ads that are relevant to my interests and are related to what I have historically read, researched, purchased, or have generally shown an interest in wanting or the intent to purchase. I want to receive ads related to the primary language I speak and to my current geo-location. I want to see ads related to my age group, gender, educational background, and household income level. I want ads that speak to me, that are of interest to me, that are relevant to me, and that are useful to me.
You get the point. I believe we are an industry that can continue to successfully manage ourselves when it comes to online data gathering, management, and utilization. That we can decipher right from wrong and continue to establish our own rules and regulations. As an industry we know when the boundaries have been pushed too far. We know when our customers are upset and when we need to make the necessary adjustments. We just need to continue to listen.