Users unsure whether personalized ads are relevant or suspicious

By October 25, 2011

A study shows improvements when personalizing online video ads. Another reveals that tailored ads make some users suspicious. What’s a marketer to do?

Online video ads are a valuable source of generating leads - they can be localized according to demographics with tangible improvements. But while some Internet users value ad personalization, others find it troubling to be reminded that marketers are collecting data about them. In studies released by eMarketer today, a balance between relevancy and over-tailoring was shown to be the sweet spot for marketers to aim for.

When asked, users say ads are annoying, and personalization is suspicious

In Crowd Science’s “JustAsk! Advertising Attitudes & Behaviors Study,” Internet users were asked several questions about online ads. 41 % of respondents are “tired of being shown ads that don’t apply” to them, 39 % find online ads irritating, 37 % are “very suspicious of online ads that appear to be tailored to” their interest, 27 % are “much more accepting of ads when they are relevant”, 24 % “ignore all ads, even if they are relevant”. When asked to express their opinion and general feelings towards ads, users say they’re annoying, and the concept of personalized ads seems somewhat suspicious for a lot of them. Interestingly, though, an other study shows personalized video ads have a better impact on brand perception than generic ads.

In practice, online video viewers are more receptive to personalized ads

Eyeview conducted a study on personalized video ads. One group of online video viewers was given a generic KAYAK ad, the other group was given an ad with localized, personalized deals for their airport. Default ads resulted in 40% purchase intent, 13% brand favorability and 19% brand loyalty, versus 55% purchase intent, 26% brand favorability and 33% brand loyalty for personalized ads. Personalization and relevancy resulted in 37% lift in reported purchase intent, 100% lift in brand favorability, and 73% lift in brand loyalty. In other words, personalized and tailored online video ads seem be more efficient for brand perception.

A general feeling of resignation

Many respondents felt neutral towards most of these questions - over half for the last two questions. The general consensus is that Internet users have a resigned feeling towards ads - they make the Web as they know it possible, but ads are often useless, and when they are not, prospective customers become suspicious. Despite these complex feelings toward online ads, only six percent would pay for an ad-free version of the websites that they already use.

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