Which Retargeted Ads Perform Best With Consumers?

How do peo­ple feel about and respond to retar­get­ing? Research shows that con­sumers click on rel­e­vant ads when they appear on trust­ed web­sites.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

There has always been a fine line between run­ning a suc­cess­ful retar­get­ing cam­paign and one that annoys, or even angers, con­sumers with overuse of intru­sive adver­tise­ments. InSkin Medi­a’s Famil­iar­i­ty, Fre­quen­cy and Fine Lines whitepa­per pro­vides an in-depth look at how con­sumers respond to retar­get­ed adver­tis­ing, with valu­able insights on how to opti­mize the effec­tive­ness of the medi­um.

To mea­sure con­sumer sen­ti­ment for tar­get­ed and retar­get­ed adver­tis­ing cam­paigns, InSkin Media and RAPP sur­veyed a pan­el of more than 1,600 adults in the UK, rep­re­sent­ing vary­ing gen­ders, ages, social class­es, and regions.

The study revealed that the major­i­ty of con­sumers are more than aware of adver­tis­er’s retar­get­ing prac­tices. How­ev­er, sen­ti­ment toward such approach­es var­ied, as did effec­tive­ness.

When Retargeting Misses The Point

The neg­a­tive effects of retar­get­ed ads tend­ed to be due to one or more of these rea­sons:

  • Exces­sive fre­quen­cy of adver­tise­ments: It’s an easy mis­take for dis­play adver­tis­ers to make, but serv­ing unwant­ed adver­tise­ments to con­sumers, either due to lack of rel­e­vance, or due to over-serv­ing of the same adver­tise­ments, can have a detri­men­tal effect on con­sumer sen­ti­ment toward a brand or prod­uct.
  • Con­cerns about use of per­son­al data: Con­sumers can often feel unset­tled by adver­tis­ing that seems to know “too much” about the prod­ucts they have been research­ing, and what they may be inter­est­ed in pur­chas­ing. For some, it can be a pri­va­cy con­cern when con­sumers feel their brows­ing his­to­ry, specif­i­cal­ly their cook­ies, have been har­vest­ed against their will as a means for mar­keters to serve them adver­tise­ments.
  • Lack of con­text of adver­tise­ments: Espe­cial­ly when ads appear com­plete­ly out of con­text with the web­sites they are brows­ing, con­sumers are much more like­ly to feel repelled, or put-off by retar­get­ed adver­tise­ments. Equal­ly, retar­get­ed ads that are irrel­e­vant to the con­sumer’s cur­rent mind­set, on the pur­chase jour­ney they are under­tak­ing, tend to be inef­fec­tive.

Retargeting Key Stats And Facts

How do peo­ple feel about retar­get­ing?

  • 69 per­cent of con­sumers feel uncom­fort­able with adver­tis­ers know­ing which web­sites they’ve vis­it­ed, almost as many that feel uncom­fort­able with adver­tis­ers know­ing their home address (72 per­cent) or their cur­rent loca­tion (71 per­cent).
  • 83 per­cent of con­sumers are most uncom­fort­able about adver­tis­ers know­ing their per­son­al income, with slight­ly less most uncom­fort­able about adver­tis­ers know their mobile phone num­ber (81 per­cent), or last online pur­chase (73 per­cent).
  • 23 per­cent of peo­ple are unaware that adver­tis­ers col­lect per­son­al infor­ma­tion in order to serve rel­e­vant ads. Women are 56 per­cent more like­ly than men to be unaware of this.

How do peo­ple respond to retar­get­ed adver­tis­ing?

  • Con­sumers are 37 per­cent more like­ly to click on an ad on a site they trust.
  • 55 per­cent of con­sumers feel put off buy­ing prod­ucts or ser­vices, if they see the same adver­tise­ment too often.
  • Just 10 per­cent of con­sumers were more like­ly to buy some­thing as a result of see­ing the same ad served repeat­ed­ly, even when based on retar­get­ing data (most­ly pre­vi­ous brows­ing his­to­ry).
  • Over half of respon­dents, 53 per­cent, voiced that they found online ads to be inter­est­ing and use­ful ini­tial­ly, but found them increas­ing­ly irri­tat­ing the more they were repeat­ed.
  • Con­sumers were near­ly 4 times more like­ly to be encour­aged than dis­cour­aged to buy some­thing after see­ing a rel­e­vant ad while research­ing a prod­uct.
  • Suc­cess how­ev­er, is a very fine line. After an ad is seen up to 5 times, con­sumer find them increas­ing­ly annoy­ing and intru­sive. After see­ing the same ad 10 times or more, the major­i­ty of con­sumers may even begin to feel angry.

Ensuring Relevancy And Success

With the effec­tive­ness of tar­get­ed or retar­get­ed ads so change­able, depen­dent on a vari­ety of fac­tors and del­i­cate con­sumer sen­ti­ments, it makes it a chal­lenge for mar­keters to ensure their retar­get­ing prac­tices are care­ful­ly designed and tuned to per­fec­tion. Accord­ing to Paul Phillips, RAPP Medi­a’s head of media strat­e­gy:

[Retar­get­ing is] a fine line to tread as brands poten­tial­ly lose con­trol through a per­fect storm of increased auto­mat­ed buy­ing and the spec­tre of con­sumer cook­ie dele­tion. Mar­keters and plan­ners are neg­li­gent if they don’t devote more care­ful plan­ning around fre­quen­cy caps and oth­er con­tex­tu­al fil­ters before let­ting the maths men hit the send but­ton.”

Despite the chal­lenges, there is still a great deal of evi­dence to sug­gest that retar­get­ed adver­tis­ing can be an effec­tive chan­nel when approached and man­aged cor­rect­ly.

After all, as the study revealed, 17 per­cent of respon­dents had clicked on an ad to seek more infor­ma­tion about an adver­tis­er in the last 7 days, with 20 per­cent of respon­dents going on to buy some­thing in the last month. Addi­tion­al­ly an over­all fig­ure of 77 per­cent of respon­dents were ful­ly aware that adver­tis­ers col­lect infor­ma­tion about them with a view to gen­er­at­ing tar­get­ing adver­tis­ing for them, indi­cat­ing that they had come to expect a degree of retar­get­ed adver­tis­ing as part of their online expe­ri­ences.

Delivery On Trusted Websites

A key take­away from the report was the impor­tance of ensure retar­get­ed adver­tise­ments were rel­e­vant in the con­text of the edi­to­r­i­al envi­ron­ment in which they were being deliv­ered. Ads that appeared out of con­text quick­ly drew neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment from con­sumers, even at a fre­quen­cy of just three ad views. At four to five views peo­ple even began to get angry about receiv­ing retar­get­ed ads, and at 10 views, up to one-third of con­sumers would be expe­ri­enc­ing an extreme­ly neg­a­tive response.

In one of the most reveal­ing insights, the study indi­cat­ed that con­sumers were 37 per­cent more like­ly to click on an ad if it resided on a site that they con­sid­ered trust­wor­thy. For exam­ple, retar­get­ed adver­tise­ments for Land Rover on the The Inde­pen­dent, a qual­i­ty and estab­lished nation­al news­pa­per, proved much more effec­tive than the same ads placed on a low­er-traf­fic, spe­cial­ist-niche cat-themed blog­ging site.


Image via Famil­iar­i­ty, Fre­quen­cy and Fine Lines

Sim­i­lar­ly, retar­get­ed ads for Clin­ique on Marie Claire, the huge­ly pop­u­lar fash­ion and lifestyle mag­a­zine, were 88 per­cent more like­ly to be rat­ed high­ly then those on tuto­r­i­al site, Instructa­bles.


Image via Famil­iar­i­ty, Fre­quen­cy and Fine Lines

Over­all, ads served on sites seem­ing­ly unre­lat­ed to the prod­uct or ser­vice result­ed in 11 times as much neg­a­tive sen­ti­ment, and in all like­li­hood, would dis­cour­age any fur­ther pur­chase.

Managing Where As Well As When

The study shows that it’s not just how fre­quent­ly a con­sumer sees an online ad, but where and when it is seen. The most illus­tra­tive exam­ple of where retar­get­ing can go wrong is adver­tis­ing to indi­vid­u­als after they have fin­ished the research phase. Here, retar­get­ed ads are lit­tle more than an annoy­ance, and “could poten­tial­ly do more harm than good.”

Hugo Dray­ton, InSkin Media’s CEO, said:

Along with under­stand­ing ‘how often’ and ‘when’, adver­tis­ers must pay more atten­tion to ‘where’ – a big issue in pro­gram­mat­ic buy­ing. Ads per­form bet­ter on pre­mi­um, trust­ed or con­tex­tu­al­ly rel­e­vant sites. As with too much rep­e­ti­tion, ads served next to irrel­e­vant con­tent may have a neg­a­tive impact on con­sumer pur­chase intent.

The indus­try got car­ried away with retar­get­ing. It’s a pow­er­ful tool but it needs to be qual­i­fied by more thought and action to ensure it’s used effec­tive­ly. As an indus­try we risk alien­at­ing a gen­er­a­tion of con­sumers. Online adver­tis­ing is huge­ly pow­er­ful and pos­i­tive, as long as it is used intel­li­gent­ly.”

When it comes down to it, bet­ter tar­get­ing strate­gies must be a long-term, client-dri­ven goal ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing effi­cien­cy. As the study reveals, retar­get­ed ads can pro­vide val­ue to online con­sumer expe­ri­ences and pur­chase cycles. The chal­lenge for mar­keters will be to opti­mize efforts so that a help­ful adver­tise­ment does­n’t end up becom­ing a nui­sance.

You can down­load the full report here.

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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