Marketers might think they are being clever by getting their ads to follow you around online, but so-called retargeting is more likely to trigger rage in potential customers than a purchase, according to a study.
The research, by ad technology company InSkin Media and Rapp Media, shows that over half (55%) of consumers are put off buying products or services if they see the same ad online multiple times, while only 10% are more likely to buy.
Over half (53%) also say that online ads are initially interesting and useful but the more they are repeated the more irritating they become.
For example, people are nearly four times more likely to be encouraged than discouraged to buy something if they see a relevant ad during their research on it. However, when an ad is seen up to five times, it becomes ‘annoying’ and ‘intrusive’ and once it hits 10 times, ‘angry’ becomes the dominant reaction.
Rapp head of media strategy Paul Phillips said: “The retargeting-genie is certainly out of the bottle, but it’s a fine line to tread as brands potentially lose control through a perfect storm of increased automated buying and the spectre of consumer cookie deletion.
“Marketers and planners are negligent if they don’t devote more careful planning around frequency caps and other contextual filters before letting the maths men hit the send button.”
In contrast to the positivity for a relevant ad being seen during research, one seen after research is over is 15% more likely to discourage than encourage a purchase. If seen after the product is purchased, its nearly four times more likely to discourage future purchases.
Phillips added: “It’s not just about how many times the ad is seen, it’s when it’s seen. Retargeted ads served after the research phase could potentially do more harm than good.”
However, the report “Familiarity, Frequency and Fine Lines”, based on a Research Now survey of over 1,600 people aged 20 to 60, reveals that ads seen multiple times are 40% more likely to be received positively if they’re served on a website related to the ad content (eg a hotel ad appearing on a holiday website).
For example, if people see an ad up to three times, they are 66% more likely to think it is clever if it is on a related site than one unrelated. If seen four to five times, they are 33% less likely to be angry if it is on a relevant site.
Ads served on unrelated sites are over 11 times more likely to discourage than encourage a purchase.
The quality of a site also has a big impact on how advertising is perceived; people are 37% more likely to click on an ad if it’s on a site they trust. The survey took respondents to view the same ad on different websites; a Land Rover ad on The Independent website was 71% more likely to be rated positively than on lesser-known site, Catster. Among women respondents, a Clinique ad on Marie Claire was 88% more likely to be rated positively than on lesser-known site, Instructables.
InSkin Media chief executive Hugo Drayton said: “Along with understanding ‘how often’ and ‘when’, advertisers must pay more attention to ‘where’ – a big issue in programmatic buying. Ads perform better on premium, trusted or contextually relevant sites. As with too much repetition, ads served next to irrelevant content may have a negative impact on consumer purchase intent.”
Another key issue is privacy, with 69% of consumers being uncomfortable with advertisers knowing which websites they have visited, only marginally lower than knowing their home address (72%) and current location (71%).
However, people are most uncomfortable about advertisers knowing their personal income (83%), followed by their mobile phone number (81%) and last online purchase (73%).
Almost one in four (23%) people are unaware that advertisers collect personal information to serve relevant ads – women are 56% more likely than men to be unaware of this.
Drayton added: “The industry got carried away with retargeting. It’s a powerful tool but it needs to be qualified by more thought and action to ensure it’s used effectively. As an industry, we risk alienating a generation of consumers. Online advertising is hugely powerful and positive, as long as it is used intelligently.”
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