Does Targeted Advertising Really Work?

Consumers worldwide are becoming exasperated by being chased around the web by targeted advertising. Sure, as a concept it should be beneficial to the consumer, but in practice it is nothing more than a nuisance.

Online shopping is a growing phenomenon which shows no signs of slowing. The problem for online businesses who are trying to make a living on the internet is getting their site out to the masses and reaching their potential customers. As human interaction is non-existent over the internet, the opportunity for online businesses to create a true rapport with their customers is far more challenging; it is simply the written content of the web page and the customer journey which will determine whether or not a browser converts into a buyer.

Even after a customer has made a purchase with an online business, there’s unlikely to be any sentimental relationship between buyer and seller, and the process of reeling them back in for a repeat purchase can be just as hard going.

Targeted advertising has become a popular marketing strategy for online businesses. We’ve all experienced it: browsing online for a new pair of shoes, then being followed from page to page by adverts for the exact shoes you just checked out online. Ever since online companies began using browser data to recall customer behavior and cater their online experience to their needs we’ve seen targeted advertising become increasingly aggressive.

But does it work?

On today’s internet, targeted adverts are stalking consumers around the web relentlessly, with many complaining that even after a purchase is made the item is still being pushed at them on every web page they visit. For something designed to be so personal, the impersonality of being targeted in all of your online browsing becomes apparent quite quickly; rather than just giving consumers a gentle nudge to remember the product they checked out, companies are bombarding them with the info.

This kind of brute force advertising does work in many cases, but it does nothing for a company’s relationship with their customers. Today’s online consumers want a personalised web experience without it being so obviously automated, and certainly don’t want to feel bombarded by your branded adverts, especially if they have made a purchase from your site already. It also raises issues about online privacy, as consumers feel targeted advertising to be an invasion of their privacy.

Today’s online marketers need to think with more subtlety when targeting potential and existing customers online, or at least get to know their customers a lot better before throwing adverts at them. With such a wealth of information available online about browser habits and hardware availability with big data capabilities, businesses are certainly able to tailor their ads in a more sophisticated and personal way. However, with concerns for online privacy and the use of sensitive consumer information at peak levels, it could be time to rein in targeting advertising and concentrate more on creating lasting relationships with customers.

One method of targeting your customers without being so obtuse is to enlist the services of online ‘influencers’, who have a large social media following. These influencers, who should be similar in demographic to your target market, will advertise your product or services via their personal accounts, engaging directly with your audience. For businesses hoping to engage with the millennial generation and generation Z, this method of advertising could be particularly valuable.

A happy customer is the best brand ambassador your business could hope for: don’t push them away with aggressive marketing strategies.

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