Behavioral Targeting’s Evolving Perception

Josh GordonNo sooner did I report the changing consumer perception of behavioral targeting – a notable shift toward acceptance – than a new study emerged showing the exact opposite. One quick note before diving into the details: This new study, and seemingly the focus of every emerging study on behavioral targeting and consumer acceptance, is focused on network behavioral targeting. Onsite targeting is again immune to consumer ire for reasons I have highlighted before.

While most online marketers defend the practice of network behavioral targeting, it is unwise to ignore the overt consumer adoption hurdles. Data is collected on individual users largely without their explicit knowledge (though processes are being installed to change that fact) across the entire Internet for the purposes of serving up relevant ads for consumers and increase conversions for marketers. An important tactic and goal for marketers is perceived as an invasion of privacy by some consumers and the powerful lobbyists that represent them. Now the growing list of lobbyists have received additional information to build their case.

According to the study from a collection of research organizations that includes the Annenberg School for Communication, the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and the University of California Berkeley School of Law, most adults – 66 percent – in the United States prefer to not be on the receiving end of targeted ads online.

Alarmingly, the study also concludes that the percentage of Americans against behavioral targeting ticks up upon gaining insight into how the data is collected and used. Interestingly, earlier studies from ChoiceStream and Q Interactive indicated that consumers are more accepting of targeted ads and content. And, while the most recent study is inconsistent with other findings, a majority respondents of the Annenberg/Berkeley study do believe businesses handle their data well.

On the surface it is quite easy to look at the results of the Annenberg/Berkeley study and condemn those skeezy marketers! However, the same study concluded that up to 50 percent of American consumers would accept targeted ads – a massive shift of nearly 20 percent – if the relevant ads also offered discounts.

So, marketers are back to the same basic conversation that has taken place for decades. Consumers are willing to accept any type of content or advertisement provided it is valuable to them as a consumer. Marketing is now and always will be about creating value. The more value marketers create, the greater the likelihood the channel/approach used to communicate that value is accepted. The same principle applies to mobile marketing, too.

While onsite targeting is widely adopted and accepted, network behavioral targeting can benefit from a similar level of acceptance if those employing the technology changed the approach to consumers. The content is as important as the technology. Using a variety of mechanisms to deliver content is great, but any marketing campaign only yields results if the content is valuable to the recipient. Marketers have the power to reverse negative perception of any behavioral targeting method – just offer content consumers want!

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  1. […] Behavioral Targeting’s Evolving Perception « The Lunch Pail lunchpail.knotice.com/2009/10/28/behavioral-targeting%E2%80%99s-evolving-perception – view page – cached No sooner did I report the changing consumer perception of behavioral targeting – a notable shift toward acceptance – than a new study emerged showing the exact opposite. One quick note before… (Read more)No sooner did I report the changing consumer perception of behavioral targeting – a notable shift toward acceptance – than a new study emerged showing the exact opposite. One quick note before diving into the details: This new study, and seemingly the focus of every emerging study on behavioral targeting and consumer acceptance, is focused on network behavioral targeting. Onsite targeting is again immune to consumer ire for reasons I have highlighted before. (Read less) — From the page […]

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Knotice: 50 percent of Americans would accept targeted online ads if they contained this one simple element: http://bit.ly/3Q5mkf

  3. […] What’s interesting about this as shown in the Anneberg/Berkley study is that up to 50 percent of the consumers would accept targeted ads if some sort of incentive or discount were offered. This applies to the age old marketing concept of creating value. Consumers are and will always be much more positive and responsive to advertisements regardless of the delivery channel if they perceive them to be valuable. Marketing will always be about creating value for the consumer and this approach should be applied by all firms to ensure their messages are received. http://lunchpail.knotice.com/2009/10/28/behavioral-targeting%E2%80%99s-evolving-perception/ […]

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