The top three things marketers need to know about ad personalisation in the post GDPR world

We’ve all been there. That one internet search that leads to an endless series of targeted adverts following us from site to site for weeks on end. Our journey through the web has become increasingly filled with ad personalisation. But just how far are consumers willing to let brands and organisations into their lives in the post GDPR world?

Recent public scandals in the way our data is used, like the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story, have only added to a feeling of mistrust amongst consumers. The ‘old deal’ that marketers thought existed – we’ll give you something for free if you let us show you marketing that you’ll probably be interested in – seems to be in decline. Our new research from our Q2 Cut To The Chase event lifts the lid on how consumers feel about ad personalisation.

Consumers Don’t Really Get It

The ‘old deal’ is no longer something consumers believe in. Our research shows that the majority of consumers are not keen on online advertising. Almost two-thirds (63%) claim they want less or no ads and even more (68%) say that targeted ads make them feel like they’re being spied on.

What’s more, consumers don’t feel that ad personalisation has a benefit for them. They don’t see or believe that targeting means they get more relevant adverts instead of more generic marketing messages. Only 31% of consumers agree that “targeted advertising means I see less advertising that’s irrelevant to me.”

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

A gulf has opened up between what consumers believe marketers are doing with their data and what they find acceptable. They know that their clicks lead to targeting, but they seem to be divided on whether this is okay. Where 61% believe that marketers use this practice, fewer than a quarter (23%) feel that this is an acceptable practice. Also some individuals (12%) feel that the data being used to target them is being gained by ‘listening in’ on private conversations. All of this is leading to an overwhelming sense that ad personalisation is just plain creepy!

Brands need to make the case for why consumers should engage with them. Sectors like banking and insurance are already earning trust with some consumers who see the benefits of sharing their data. 64% of bank customers and 52% of insurance customer say that it is important for the organisation to have their data if they are to have a positive customer experience. But this understanding dips to 36% when it comes to utilities and it plummets to 10% when it comes an FMCG brand like a cosmetic company using their personal digital activity.

It’s Good News for Earned Media

But it’s not all doom and gloom for marketers. A lot of the mistrust comes from a lack of knowledge and awareness of what’s possible. The ability to control privacy, while sometimes confusing, is possible and recent scandals have highlighted this. Once consumers feel they are in control they start to see the benefits and are happier to personalise.

It comes down to trust. If they understand the reasons they are seeing certain adverts most consumers are willing to engage in personalisation. 63% are happy to share information when they know why they are being asked for it. And the large majority (70%) believe it is important for brands and services to understand and know them for a good customer experience. It’s in the earned media marketing space where consumers feel that content provides a balance of being ‘not that targeted’ and also ‘highly relevant when engaged with’. Only 33% believe that press/media articles are targeted at them and 53% said that articles they saw were relevant to them. Good news for our colleagues in PR and Communications.

So What Do Marketers Need to Do?

  1. Get transparent. Without greater transparency, the ROI of marketing is fundamentally at risk
  2. Get some balance. To regain brand trust and loyalty, in a post-GDPR world, categories need to re-balance the perception of a fair value exchange
  3. Get back to basics. Give consumers what they want, not what you think they need

This research was launched at delineate’s quarterly breakfast event, Cut To The Chase. We would like to give special thanks to James Stewart from Co-operative Bank and Holly Justice from TytoPR for their participation in event.

You can download the full research and watch the presentation from the Q2 Cut To The Chase event by clicking the pink button below.