The Perils and Opportunities of Personalized Digital Marketing

It’s a universal truth in modern digital advertising: the more relevant or personal the ad is to its target, the more effective and engaging that ad will be. …

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The Perils and Opportunities of Personalized Digital MarketingIt’s a universal truth in modern digital advertising: the more relevant or personal the ad is to its target, the more effective and engaging that ad will be.

To that end, today’s leading marketing firms, social media platforms, and mobile ad networks are stepping up efforts to make their advertising content as personally tailored as possible to their intended audience.

But while the opportunities born of accurate ad targeting are many, the potential perils of personalized advertising must not be overlooked either.

With extreme customization, warns James O’Connor of Fusion 360, a leading digital advertising agency based in Utah, marketing gurus are “violating the tenets of a brand to consumer relationship that would facilitate such a jolting connection.”

“Imagine your significant other sifting through your phone without your permission to find out information about what kind of socks you want for Christmas,” O’Connor explains. “Although this demonstrates a willingness to please, it demonstrates even more so an irritating violation of privacy.”

With the growing demand for online and mobile ad formats, many wonder if online targeting is going too far too frequently in 2014. While there are privacy regulations that prohibit search engines such as Google from targeting web browsing habits by certain factors such as medical health, practically everyone connected to the web today is familiar with the “personalized targeting” all major players in the digital world have rapidly adopted.

From a brand, business, or advertiser’s standpoint, buying ad space that will target and generate ads in response to an individual’s recent searches may seem logical. But is it ethical? For website users it can feel a bit unsettling and even creepy when you Google something out of mere curiosity and spend the rest of the day reading ads that are generated through spot-on online targeting.

While the ostensible goal behind online targeting is to present relevant ads, sometimes consumers are simply clicking on a random link or Googling something they are only mildly interested in, only to be inundated by similar ads for a lengthy period of time afterwards.

Consequently, a growing number of consumers now feel that online targeting unequivocally invades their privacy, even when it stays within “guidelines.” So even while online targeting may produce positive results for the band, publisher, or advertiser, at times it feels intrusive. And that’s a problem.

According to O’Connor, however, there are tactics that can be embraced to facilitate personalized marketing that doesn’t leave a Big Brother aftertaste. For Fusion 360, an award winning ad agency, this mastery of digital marketing has been serving clients and consumers very well for many years.

So how can you learn these winning tricks of the trade?

“Something cannot be creepy if a consumer is not aware of it,” O’Connor explains. “Rather than using a consumer’s name to further affine them toward your business, playing an invisible hand at the poker table works better. Finding unique ways to measure behavioral characteristics within larger segments than the individual, like demographic, geographic and psychographic data procuration will not only increase marketing efficiency, it will also help spot and manipulate consumer behavior without them being aware of the business’s tracking process.”

“As is true with many things,” he concludes, “when it comes to consumer customization, being able to do something is not sufficient justification to do it.”

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