“68% of people are not okay with targeted advertising because [they] don’t like having [their]…behavior tracked and analyzed.” (Pew Research Center) What is the root of this fear, and what can advertisers do to resolve it?
Fact Of Life
The general public always has and always will use the availability heuristic to identify potential danger. It is rooted deep within mankind’s survival instincts to take what is known about a possible risk and apply it to everything we can in order to protect ourselves.
This is true for brightly colored snakes, airplane flights, and the dark. It’s also true for big data.
Stories about targeted ads using big data don’t make the news unless they’re exciting. When you ask the general population about the subject, you will hear about Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica Scandal or financial information leaks from big banks— nothing good. So when a consumer notices an advertisement that only could have reached them through third party information sharing, they’re not typically welcoming it with open arms. They associate it with every instance of “big data gone wrong” they can recall.
What’s The Issue With Targeted Advertisements?
Shih Hsin University’s T. C. Lin performed a study that examined trust concerns of mobile advertisers relating to usage of app-based LBAs. In her study, she uses three main concerns: ability, benevolence, and integrity.
Out of the three, they found that integrity was the only factor users cared about. Their concern was not reliability of the LBA to function properly, nor did they care about friendliness. With a .7% significance of correlation, users cared that the provider of the LBA showed their integrity through transparency, honesty, and morality.
Advertisers wanted to avoid any situation in which they or their consumers could be blindsided by a digital information scandal. This particular study focuses on the perspective of mobile advertisers. However due to the fact that they have the consumer’s best interest in mind, similar inferences can be made about the desires of those being targeted by online advertisers.
Making Customers Comfortable With Targeted Ads
Like mobile advertisers, targeted individuals want to trust companies to handle their private information with care. Hence, the most effective approach is the obvious one: be up front and honest with targeted audience. If you plan on sharing a customer’s information, be transparent about what, why, and how.
This alone will likely scare the general public. However, it it the duty of advertisers to educate consumers about the benefits they will reap. Targeted advertisements are not just valuable for businesses.
Targeted advertisements are in the consumer’s best interest because they are more relevant to their life. It is a great way for new products to discover them, instead of the other way around. Rakuten Marketing conducted research and found that “81 percent of U.S. consumers want brands to know that advertising is acceptable when the ad content is useful and doesn’t interrupt their online experience.” The issue is not the targeted advertisements themselves, but rather the way in which the useful advertisements are targeted. The fear of personal information being misused interrupts users online experience.
Targeting advertisements in a safe and non-secretive way give the general population what they want, while making advertising more effective and worthwhile for businesses. When advertisements are targeted with integrity, everybody wins.
Written By: Victoria Kline