News Analysis: Cyber 'stalking'?

News Analysis: Cyber 'stalking'?
SHARE
THIS



With a large number of Australians saying targeted advertising feels "creepy", Alex Hayes asks what marketers can do to provide a more tailored experience without coming across all cyber stalker  

 

While advertisers are running as fast as they can to gather data on every person online, ostensibly to give them a more personal and targeted experience, a new Ipsos study suggests around half of Australians do not actually feel comfortable being targeted. 

The Mind and Mood report concluded that 46% of Australians do not want the ads targeted at them, with many describing the attempts as "clumsy", "creepy" and "insulting".

Women over the age of 40 were the main complainants, hitting out against "crudely stereotypical advertising". One study participant in in her 40s complained: "The advertising on Facebook changes depending on what you look at and like. For some reason I am getting lots of '53 year old mum looks 37' down the side, and neck exercises and dating for seniors. I look at them and think, harrumph, why am I getting that?"

A common complaint from many was the Big Brother-like quality of these adverts, making them feel as if they are being "stalked".

One respondent said: "It's so much harder to discover anything new these days. It's like you have this digital ghost of who you are hovering over you. It's horrifying."

Even former-US vice president-turned-futurist Al Gore decried it in his interview at South by SouthWest, stating: "There's a difference between scary and creepy. Creepy is not fear, it's pre-fear. Something's going on and you don't know what it is, so you need to be on your guard. That's the same as the digital world with this stalker economy."

The report's author, Laura Demasi, adds: "You'd be hard pressed to find anyone say something positive about the practice."

Despite this, if you ask any strategist, analyst or digital marketer, it is clear targeting is here to stay, so what can marketers do to make their advertising practices better?

"The trick is to not be creepy," is the advice of eBay's vice president of innovation Steve Yankovic.  He sees the shopping experience becoming increasingly personal, using mobile devices to advise on purchases, tell staff when a customer does not like to be approached and even hunt down a better deal locally. 

Yankovic states: "You need to do something useful. The trick is to use the data you have to allow people to opt in to the experience. 

"Eighteen-months ago, 75% of people said 'no' to using data to target content, now it's the other way around. If you change my life and delight me then you will do it."

Adobe's new marketing cloud has rolled together six existing tools – a content management system, analytics, media optimiser and a social media tool. 

And the final element? Adobe Target, a tool allowing marketers to not only customise their ads based on the data they have harnessed, and even test certain executions to portions of their audience to monitor responses. 

Kevin Lindsay, the director of product marketing for Adobe Target, says the important thing for marketers to understand is that there are "degrees of relevance" which need to be worked out on a customer-by-customer basis. 

He suggests: "There are different profiles, and the decision has to be what's appropriate and non-creepy for this anonymous person arriving to the site versus this authenticated person coming to the site because they are already a member and they are expecting a highly-relevant and personalised experience." 

Targeting, says Lindsay, has allowed marketers to finally do what they have always dreamed of – tailor their messages to each individual member of their audience. 

Nowadays many websites offer an experience tailored to customers in subtle ways. 

Lindsay says: "The other way to go is just to provide a relevant, elegant experience, and the person doesn't realise they're having it. But they would realise it if they weren't having it."

But, he acknowledges there is also a public education piece which needs to be performed, with more web browsers like Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10, Google Chrome and Firefox now offering people a "do not track" option, which blocks cookies.

Lindsay adds: "It's obviously a concern. I think that there's been so much fear-mongering about all this stuff that people may be justifiably concerned in some cases and in others it's just silliness. Most people enjoy having a great experience."

He points to Amazon as an exceptional version of personalisation and customisation, allowing consumers the option to tailor their experience right down to rating reviews, and removing them from their feeds. 

"That kind of transparency is a best practice. It's one that can certainly work, and might be a way to go," concludes Lindsay. 

But, with targeting comes a certain amount of demographic generalisations, based on age, gender, marital status, location and a myriad of other tiny details. 

Increasingly though, publishers and platforms are turning away from this broad-stroke approach, and turning instead to different ways to categorise their audiences.

While the century-old publisher Conde Nast may not be the first name you would think of to be pioneering this work, it has recently ripped up the rule book, and done a "deep dive" into its audience profiles, according to Chris Reynolds, its vice president of marketing and analytics.

He told an audience at the Adobe Summit conference in the US: "Publishers need to focus on who they can bring to the table. We're looking at who our core audience is, and doing a lot of online and offline data to identify who they are."

This involves fragmenting the audience into 10 categories, from 'Motor Maven' (luxury car experts) to 'Lovemark Mums' (mums who buy brand names rather than generic products), based on the behaviour of 450,000 readers from their "preferred user network" who have volunteered information, with the idea of being able to track them across multiple sites, as opposed to targeting just one title. 

The lesson seems to be, when you know who your users are, feel free to really tailor their advertising and web experiences.

But, until then, make small tweaks they will appreciate, and you will have them coming back for more – without realising you are really cyber stalking them.

 

Alex Hayes was a guest of Adobe at the Summit conference in Salt Lake City

This News Analysis was first published in the March 29 issue of B&T Magazine

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Pooled Energy Appoints Magnum & Co And The Wired Agency
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Pooled Energy Appoints Magnum & Co And The Wired Agency

Swimming pool electricity retailer Pooled Energy has appointed Magnum & Co and sister agency The Wired Agency to its roster, following a competitive pitch. Magnum & Co will handle Pooled Energy’s social media and PR, while The Wired Agency has been appointed to manage the company’s search and display advertising. Both agencies will collaborate with […]

Masculinity Roasted In Clever New Ad
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Masculinity Roasted In Clever New Ad

Think masculinity means drinking a case without chundering? Well, rediscover it (& possibly yourself) with this top ad.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
WPP AUNZ Partners With Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program
  • Advertising

WPP AUNZ Partners With Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program

Advertising and marketing network WPP AUNZ has joined the Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program as part of its commitment to a diverse workforce, and the creation of opportunities that inspire excellence. As part of the program, WPP AUNZ has welcomed its first three interns: Abi-Leigh Dillon (WPP AUNZ), Amy Mccutcheon (MediaCom) and Jacinta Evans (Ogilvy), […]

Taboo Goes On A Hiring Spree
  • Advertising

Taboo Goes On A Hiring Spree

Taboo has gone a hiring spree. And when it comes to sprees, that's far better than a shooting one or a farting one.

M&C Saatchi Group’s 1440 Shuts Up Shop
  • Marketing

M&C Saatchi Group’s 1440 Shuts Up Shop

Sadly, M&C Saatchi's 1440 is no more. And chances of it being reborn as 1550 not looking much chop either.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Luke Kelly Becomes A Partner At HBT
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Luke Kelly Becomes A Partner At HBT

B&T's not sure what's with that twirly thing in the press photo, suffice to say a vortex to an alternate dimension?

Women In Media Profile: Alison Michalk
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Alison Michalk

If B&T's Women in Media profiles were an animal they would be a gazelle or lioness, or even a lioness eating a gazelle.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Grant Broadcasters Makes Several Changes To Senior Executive Team
  • Media

Grant Broadcasters Makes Several Changes To Senior Executive Team

Independent media company Grant Broadcasters has announced a number of changes to its executive ranks. Grant Cameron will move up to become non-executive chairman for the company, and Alison Cameron (pictured above) – currently the chief operating officer – will assume the CEO role. Dugald Cameron remains responsible for the family’s investment portfolio and is […]

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities
  • Advertising
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities

Australian retail out-of-home (OOH) business Shopper Media Group (SMG) has announced a partnership with AI-powered wireless networks provider Mist. The partnership will see SMG offer new WiFi, analytics and location-based services across the company’s portfolio of Australian shopping centres. Mist currently provides WiFi and location services using virtual Bluetooth LE technology to businesses across all […]

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account
  • Advertising
  • Media

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account

Travel organisation Cruiseco has announced the appointment of Sydney independent agency This is Flow (TIF) to handle its $5 million media account. This is the first time Cruiseco has appointed an agency, having managed its communications internally. Cruiseco is the largest and broadest distributor of cruise products in the Southern Hemisphere. With a membership base […]

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd

Need a Monday morning pick-me-up? You could stand naked next to the office fridge or read these inspiring words.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract
  • Advertising
  • Media

APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract

Out-of-home media business APN Outdoor has won the tender for New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport. As part of the new agreement, APN Outdoor has flagged extensive development plans for Queenstown Airport’s advertising assets. The new contract adds Queenstown Airport to APN Outdoor’s existing portfolio of Auckland and Christchurch Airports. The media company will hire a South […]