Murdoch University’s Audience Labs has tested using people’s web-browsing behaviour to select the TV ads they watch, a development it says could benefit viewers and advertisers as long as privacy concerns are addressed.
"Right now, TV advertisers target commercials based on demographics such as age, gender, lifestyle and location, but this information can quickly become out of date and viewers are often given ads for products they’re not interested in,” said Dr Steve Bellman of Murdoch University.
"As cable and internet get more closely packaged – and as more people watch TV ads on catch-up TV sites such as SBS On Demand and Yahoo!7 – advertisers are looking at ways to evolve the TV ad model and get effective bang for their buck.”
He said advertisers estimate that about half their ads are wasted on the wrong viewers, and viewers are avoiding irrelevant ads.
"Our study shows that using people’s digital footprints adds a new layer of real-time information that enhances ad effectiveness for viewers and advertisers, though only for certain products,” said Bellman.
He added that web-targeted TV ads were especially useful for ‘low-involvement products’, those that advertisers know consumers are actively looking to buy, because that’s the only time they’d look for them online, including fast food, beverages and home cleansers.
“Ads for high-involvement and lifestyle products, such as cars, computers and clothes, tend to be intrinsically interesting all the time, whether or not you’ve just been looking at these products on the net.
“We need to be sure people are OK with this level of information sharing and that the technology is sufficiently advanced to take into account issues such as multiple viewers and computer sharing,” he said.