It’s 2017 and we are being constantly bombarded by ads. We see a pop up on every page we visit, there are banner ads on the sides of the blogs we read. When we log onto social media a large proportion of what we see is sponsored, and when we search Google the first few results are always advertisements. At a certain point we start to block out the advertising “noise”. There’s too much of it and a lot of it just isn’t relevant to our lives.
In recent years, ad campaigns have focused on targeting the “right” segment of users. Using this logic, the total group of potential customers of any business is split up into different segments often based on demographic or psychographic qualities. Take Instagram for example. If you want to create a campaign you can pick out your target segment by choosing their age, gender, location and up to 10 interests. On Facebook you can go into even greater depth in terms of interests but the overall logic is the same. Once a segment is chosen, material is targeted specifically towards them. For example if you are a sports brand with a segment of 18-40 year olds based in Manhattan with an interest in sport you can send them ads about a new activewear line for young people that is about to launch in New York. And though this is much more effective than just blanket targeting everyone with ads, but it doesn’t give us the full picture about our customers.
The future is about personalization
Personalization goes a lot further than targeting and we can already see that the future of ads is moving strongly towards personalized content. While segmentation is good, getting to know users and potential customers in more detail is essential. Personalization means learning how individual users interact with your site or advertisement and tailoring content so it better fits them. And more than that – personalization is seamless and moves across channels, continuously learning about user behavior and what works best. According to Accenture, the ultimate goal of personalization is to use data to make it easier for customers to find and consume what they want, how and when they want it, based not only on the WHAT of past purchase or browsing, but by understanding the WHY behind their preferences.
Advertising goes native
Part of the seamless quality of advertising means moving away from our world of non-stop noise. As ads become more relevant and more interesting they begin to feel like useful advice rather than obtrusive interruptions to our daily browsing or gaming habits. And of course, customers greatly prefer this kind of advertising, with 71% saying they would prefer ads tailored to them and their shopping experiences to eliminate irrelevant content and allow them to discover new products faster. Part of this more organic experience relies on a stronger push towards native ads and below-the-fold advertising. Instead of catching a large segment of people at the top of a website, ads will work to organically engage users who have read and interacted with an article.
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