Consumers warn brands: ‘stop stalking us online or else’

anger1Brands which use online ads that stalk consumers as they move from website to website risk reputational damage and even a customer boycott, according to a new study which exposes just how annoying retargeting is proving.
The research, carried out Conversant, questioned consumers across seven different countries and found 48% of UK consumers dislike seeing the same ads multiple times. In fact they find it so annoying that almost half (48%) of Brits believe the ad industry needs to change.
Brits are not alone, however, consumers in the US and Germany experience a similar level of stalking – with the desire for the industry to move away from this activity at 47% and 49% respectively. However, the French are revolting for a change; only 38% of consumers in France dislike this technique, and only 40% believe change is needed.
Conversant senior vice-president Elliott Clayton said: “We’ve all experienced it, that same advert following us around and continuing to pop up everywhere – it’s an issue that’s inherent with ad retargeting. Far from inciting a purchase, this is more likely to lead to the consumer becoming annoyed and potentially cause reputational damage in the long run than lead to a sale.
“Our research has revealed that by delivering high-volume low-quality retargeting to consumers, marketers are pushing customers away, wasting their marketing budget in the process.”
The research also revealed that more than a quarter (29%) of UK consumers judge brands poorly when they produce bad advertising. While consumers are open to adverts, almost half (44%) would prefer to see fewer ads, with those that they do see to be more relevant and useful to the individual.
Consumers in the US (45%) and Germany (48%) would also like to see this change of fewer but more relevant adverts. In Germany. in particular, bad advertising can have a big effect on a brand’s reputation, with over a third (36%) of German consumers judging a brand poorly for bad advertising. In France, on the other hand, only 15% of French consumers would be put off a brand by its poor advertising.
Clayton added: “The only way to ensure genuine relevancy to the individual consumers that see your ads is with personalisation. Truly personalised advertising has been around for a while now, but it’s unfortunate that many marketers still confuse it with retargeting – from looking at these survey results, that’s a risky mistake to make.
“Often, retargeting involves repeatedly showing a consumer a product that they have already chosen not to purchase. Instead, the relevancy created by personalisation lies with being able to properly identify customers across different devices, tracking activity online and offline, then adapting your creative in realtime, on the fly.”
It is not all doom and gloom, however, as the figures do show that improvements are being made compared to previous years. Conversant’s 2017 Holiday Report revealed that 65% of consumers said companies, retailers or brands send them too many irrelevant communications.
Clayton concluded: “While we are seeing progress, there’s still a way to go for marketers to build those true, close customer relationships. Consumers want brands to reach out to them on a personal level, and that means marketers need to have a real understanding of their customers’ purchase behaviour and habits, not just online but also combining this with offline activities and analysing it across all channels and devices.”

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