Interest-based advertising in digital has transformed how consumers, brands and publishers interact. Lately however, as frequently happens among the self-appointed digital intelligentsia, a number of articles have popped up that seem to call ads personalization into question. I was particularly surprised to see this WSJ article that questioned the value of interest-based advertising for publishers and the wider ecosystem, claiming, among other dubious assertions, that its value only obtains to ad tech companies or the so-called "duopoly." (Or, with the rise of Amazon, is it a triopoly now?)
Yes, there is always room for dissenting opinions, new ideas and groundbreaking research to be sure. But, let’s be serious. As most consumers know, advertising relevant to their interests gives them a better experience online. For marketers it’s an efficient way to reach their customers. As most publishers have known for years, ads based on data that relate to consumers’ interests sell for a premium and have paid the bills in digital. It’s really that simple.
Consumers Lead and Marketers Follow
The research shows over and over again that consumers prefer a more personalized digital experience. Just according to one recent study, “90% of consumers say that messages from companies that are not personally relevant to them are ‘annoying.’ Of those irritating messages, 53% say advertising for an irrelevant product tops their list of messaging annoyances.” Each of us knows what the online experience once was, and how irritating it can be when what we see isn’t relevant.
One could easily argue that it was consumers who changed digital advertising, by voting with their clicks and engagement that showed they wanted more relevance and didn’t respond positively to ad spam. Facebook, Google, Amazon and all the other players responded by investing in this business and wouldn’t be reaping the rewards if users didn't engage.