With new privacy policies coming out from big tech companies—in the hopes of stopping overly intrusive tracking—consumers are more aware than ever that their data is being stored and used. What consumers don’t realize is how it’s being stored and used—and how it can benefit them. It’s true to an extent that data is being mishandled, but the new privacy policies that will focus on first-party cookies and eliminate third-party cookies are actually making tracking safer and less intrusive for the consumer.
Consumers aren’t hearing enough about the value of advertising personalization. As responsible marketers, it’s our job to cut through the noise and make consumers aware of a certain truth: Opting in and receiving personalized ads doesn’t equate to customers selling their soul (and their data) to corporations. Rather, it provides an important and enjoyable user experience.
Consumers are going to receive ads no matter what restrictions the large platforms put in place. What marketers can do to be good stewards to customers is to leverage personalization tools, to ensure that they’re provided value-added content.
This blog post won’t provide all the answers, but it will offer a new perspective. Instead of marketers spending time and energy complaining about new ad targeting restrictions, marketers can choose a different path: Present customers with personalized advertising experiences and explain the value of tracking tools such as cookies. Then we have to follow through by showing consumers highly relevant, personalized ads they want to see and that have the potential to improve their lives.
To do otherwise will continue to make customers mistrust our industry. Multichannel Merchant released data in 2019 that shows that 90% of consumers who see non-personalized ads—even from brands they enjoy—are annoyed by them. Furthermore, 53% of consumers say ads by brands that they find to be irrelevant—brands and products that they have no interest in—are even more bothersome. We know that consumers crave ads that deliver personalized content. If we look back even further, 2016 data from Adlucent tells us that 71% of consumers want personalized ads.
So, while consumers want personalized ads, they also want privacy. The trouble comes when they have to choose between privacy protections and an onslaught of non-personalized ads. The middle ground—the place where value-added campaigns respect privacy rights—is advertising personalization that gives customers the ability to opt in to ad tracking.
This point was recently underscored by a spokesperson for Facebook upon the release of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update. “Apple’s new prompt is designed to present a false tradeoff between personalized ads and privacy, when, in fact, we can provide both.”
Given the value of personalization and how many people don’t understand its benefit, those of us in the advertising industry need to get the message out that opting in to ad tracking has value. What’s more, not doing so denies customers information that would improve their lives and digital experiences.
More specifically, we need to explain that opting in to ad tracking will enhance the customer experience in these key ways:
- Customers will see personalized ads that show them products and services they want and need, making browsing and shopping easy and efficient. No more endlessly scrolling the internet.
- They’ll get to enjoy a smooth, frictionless experience. The frustration of “why am I seeing this” is removed.
- Opting in prevents customers from being stuck with products that don’t serve them—instead, they can see new products and services that interest them and that they otherwise may have missed.
- Customers gain a community. By being served highly relevant ads, they can communicate with fellow customers through social media and other forums, share ideas on how to use the products or services, and find the latest deals.
The value advertising personalization offers the customer is clear. Now we just need to communicate it to consumers, which will happen the more we speak about it. When Googling ad personalization or ad tracking, the first articles to pop up are all about the downfalls of opting in. To remove the negative perception and truly educate users, we need to start a conversation. If high-level marketers begin to speak about the benefits, users will understand what opting in really means.
For example, brands often provide a standard cookie pop-up message. Companies can add extra transparency to their tracking process by explaining why the tracking happens and what it will do for both the brand and consumer. You can even make your tracking messages fun—engaging consumers instead of getting a mindless click or bounce. Everyone is used to the standard opt-in messaging, so try to stand out. Here’s an example from HubSpot:
HubSpot clearly states the value of opting in. The pop-up may be a bit wordy—but it clearly conveys the benefits
There’s no question that privacy policies and restrictions will prevent your customers from seeing ads that can add value to their lives. The best defense is to make clear the value of opting in to ad tracking so that customers make their decisions based on reliable information and not false perceptions.
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