Why You Should Hire Big Brother
In 2019, Pew Research Center reported that close to 80% of Americans expressed concern about the way their data is being used by companies, with more than 80% feeling that they have little or no control over how these entities use their personal information. It’s difficult to find a person that doesn’t have a story about feeling spied on by advertisers, with ads seeming to pop up related to something you were just discussing with a friend as if by magic.
It is no wonder that people are suspicious about digital advertisers “spying” on them when ads for something you are interested in seem to follow you around the Internet as if there is someone sitting behind a monitor in the basement of a data center typing away at an algorithm to get you to buy a pineapple corer. That being said, the majority of people don’t truly understand how their data is actually used in regards to digital advertising. It is based on a lack of understanding of how digital advertising uses data that leaves people feeling like their data is being used to manipulate them somehow, when in reality there are quite a few positive things that benefit customers when targeted digital ads are done correctly.
A different perspective
The reality of targeted advertising is a bit less scary than the stories most people have woven for themselves. Targeted digital ads are essentially the same concept that direct mail has used for decades — sending the right thing to the right person at the right time. The big difference is that targeted digital advertising uses thousands of data points collected by companies like Google and Facebook to build a picture of who you are so that advertisers can then pay to send their ads directly to you rather than to a certain neighborhood of mailboxes in hopes that the people living there are the people they want to reach. One consequence of this type of targeting is that you actually do see advertisements that are generally more relevant to you based on thousands of data points. This is the main reason that digital ads are effective — they work!
Another aspect of digital advertising that the majority of people don’t know about is that they are inherently built to protect consumers through platform monetization. For example, Google AdWords actually bases costs to advertisers not only on what other advertisers are bidding, but also the perceived relevance of the landing page and product the ad is associated with to the keyword being advertised for. This means that the less relevant your content and landing page are to the keyword you are bidding on, the more expensive it will be for you to bid on that term. These factors are also expanded upon over the lifetime of an ad with factors like bounce rate on click throughs as well as conversions affecting ad costs. While this is structured to make the advertising as effective as possible to drive advertising revenue for companies like Google and Facebook, it inherently weeds out less relevant and spammy offers for us, the consumer, as well.
With this in mind, as a business, it would be a big mistake to think that your audience will automatically boycott your brand when they start seeing your ads, especially if your brand is already built on creating a great experience for your customers. The reality is that when targeted advertising is done in a respectful, responsible way it can leave your audience delighted to see your ads. But this begs the question, “How do I take advantage of the focused targeting that data has to offer without alienating the people we are trying to reach?”
The right way to leverage digital targeting
The answer to this question can be found in serving ads to your audience in the most respectful and responsible way you can. At Kinetic, we have found that this happens the most when three main factors are taken into account — trust, relevance and control.
While trust is a critical part of building any audience, it is especially important when using targeted advertising to reach current and potential customers. This trust is built in a few ways in terms of targeted digital advertising, including:
- Transparency on your website concerning any data that you are collecting. While most sites are now displaying information about the data they collect, this still doesn’t make a lot of users feel comfortable. Putting some effort into explaining what you do with their information in terms that are easily understood can build a lot of trust.
- Transparency concerning the ads you are serving to your audience and where they are coming from. Reputable ad networks generally provide this information when displaying your ads, but it is also possible to customize your ad creative to be even more transparent with the people seeing your ads about why they are seeing them.
- Transparency about why you are reaching out to the audience that you are. Reaching a local audience with ads that reference the local area is a great example of targeting done for the right reasons, even if the audience is not fully aware of that being strategic use of targeted advertising.
Being as open as possible while staying on message with your brand and offer builds trust with your audience and will never hurt your brand.
As we touched on earlier in this post, relevance is key to targeted digital advertising for a number of reasons. Relevance plays a key role in any direct marketing activity, as you are reaching out to an individual with an offer that is meant to feel like it was made just for them. With digital targeting having the capability to take literally thousands of data points into account, you have the ability to focus on a specific group of people with laser-like precision, which also means that knowing your audience has never been more important than it is with digital advertising. A deep understanding of your audience allows you to create an offer and supporting content that will not only generate the best possible ROI on your ad spend, but also connect with your audience and genuinely engage with them. This is the heart of optimization when it comes to targeted digital advertising and should not only be carefully crafted up front before beginning a campaign, but should be continually optimized over time based on ad performance data and testing.
Control is ironically the factor that we as digital advertisers have the least amount of control over. Control here refers to the degree of control your audience feels they have over the use of their own data. Several different studies have shown that ad performance consistently improves relative to the sense of control that an audience feels they have over their own data and the use of it. Again, there is not much that you as the advertiser can do to give this to your audience beyond using reputable ad networks for your digital targeting of ads and being as transparent as possible about your advertising and data collection. The majority of this element sits with the parties actually collecting data at the very least disclosing the targeting that they are doing or even allowing consumers to dictate ad preferences themselves. This is something that the main players like Google, Facebook and Twitter are moving toward not only based on the privacy concerns of users, but also based on the fact that advertisements have been found to perform better when the audience feels more in control of their data.
Putting targeted digital advertising to work for your brand
As you can see, digital targeting is a powerful tool for advertisers to have at their disposal — it is a tool that can be used to create a great experience for your audience without being invasive. Focusing on doing targeted digital ads for the right reasons and the right audience can be one of the most powerful uses of marketing spend available to most brands. Creating a great digital experience for your audience that builds trust between your audience and your brand isn’t just a good reason to start using targeted digital advertising, it is the only reason to use targeted digital ads. Kinetic has been helping brands from a range of different industries use digital advertising to reach new customers and grow their business for years. Contact us if you would like to see how to put the power of targeted advertising to work for your brand.