Can retargeting digital advertising backfire?


I found Catherine Tucker‘s research on ads that know too much very insightful.  Please note particularly:

“Tucker has focused her studies on the growing number of personalized ads. In an experiment  with an online travel firm, for example, she saw that ads tailored to a  specific browsing history were, on average, less effective than generic  ads for the site when shown to people who had recently visited. “You’ve  been to the website and looked at the products. There’s probably a good  reason why you didn’t buy it,” she says. This is akin to an age-old  marketing maxim—“timing is everything”—that Tucker says is being lost in the digital age.”

See also this article for similar evidence that personalization in general can become too personal or not personal enough:
Can personalization get too personal?

About Arie Goldshlager

Customer Insight, Customer Strategy, and Innovation Consultant
This entry was posted in Personalization. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Can retargeting digital advertising backfire?

  1. The study states that retargeting does work better than generic, when the customer is closer to a purchase decision. “When consumers exhibit browsing behavior that suggests their product preferences have stabilized, dynamic retargeted ads are MORE effective than generic ads.” (Emphasis added).

    Stable product preferences (which they mark by customer is looking at reviews and learning about product features) mark a consumer who is in the proverbial bottom of the funnel. The is the rightful place for retargeting, no? My take on this study: 1). Retargeting works for consumers who are in market 2). We need to get smarter about picking up on in-market signals. Retargeting may be a very blunt “monkey see, monkey do” advertising instrument, but it’s a tool that has its place when used correctly.

    I think the real win comes from not (just) observing superficial browsing behaviors, but mining customer data and using it to create more sophisticated encounters. Much like what’s possible with Facebook’s Custom Audiences offering.

  2. As a product or service provider, you have to draw a line between how much is enough and how much is getting overboard. Customer convenience turns into customer agitation if the personalization gets too much.

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