Behavioural targeting has long since been a hot topic of debate and with various networks starting to find their feet in the South African digital space, this debate is likely to continue.
Ad networks in the United Kingdom have long since laid claim to behavioural targeting as one potential solution for driving further interaction with creative and thus improving campaign performance. But how do the users feel about it? How ethical is it? How should brands approach this? And where does it leave the agency?
According to an online advertising report by Addvantage Media, conducted by YOUGOV, Behavioural Targeting is seen as less than above board, and even regarded as irrelevant by the majority of UK consumers – no one really wants people to know their online behaviour patterns, do they?
The report also found that 52% of consumers would be very likely to unsubscribe (if given the option) from adverts based on behavioural targeting. Even with a younger, more tech savvy audience, this attitude doesn’t change much as the following figures show: 53% of 18-24 year olds, 52% of 25-34 year olds, 50% of 35 to 44 year olds, 54% of 45 to 54 year olds.
According to the data, users’ negative perception of behavioural targeting raises the question; “Does it actually lead to relevant advertising being served?” 45% of consumers said that they had never witnessed a relevant ad based on their online behaviour while 31% of younger consumers claim to have experienced a relevant advert more often (51% of 18-24 year olds, 44% of 25-34 year olds) but that still leaves a large portion of the audience who have never noticed a relevant advert based on their online behaviour.
With the South African digital industry on the verge of some major changes in the next year or so and with the arrival of more networks to fresh, green South African pastures there is something to be said for how South African users will react to the knowledge that networks, brands and agencies could be monitoring their behaviour online.
Brands should be aware of the potential pitfalls when trying to solve their online advertising challenges. A brand’s campaign which is bought on a mass reach “blind buy” approach can sometimes never substitute for good old fashioned advertising – matching advertising to the correct niche environment. Users’ interactions in these niche environments with relevant content will always drive better ROI (Return on Investment).
What brands need to be aware of is that when behavioural targeting goes wrong and adverts are displayed on miscalculated user behaviour, this can lead to a negative perception of the brand as being intrusive. This brings in the argument how ethical is the “last cookie dropped” or “Cookie Stuffing”?
According to the report, consumers will boycott brands that are associated with misguided online advertising methods. 37% said that if they had knowledge of an online advert automatically installing tracking malware or corrupt ‘cookie stuffing’ software on their PCs, they would boycott the brand.
With regards to agencies, the pressure to deliver greater traffic volumes has increased and there is the ever present challenge for agencies to stretch the rules of attribution but this is something that agencies should be aware of while trying to satisfy clients’ online objectives and meet their ROI expectations.
For brands, agencies and media owners alike with the rate at which digital is changing we can easily lose sight of the best route to market, therefore we must always remember that while trying to meet targets, deadlines and objectives that we should always KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!