The predicated backlash to online advertising, as revealed by Deloitte’s survey (Media Week, 08.01.08), demonstrates what digital specialists have known for some time: a better understanding and use of online targeting techniques is critical to maintaining the medium’s reputation.
It’s no surprise that people are annoyed with intrusive online ads that frustrate their internet journey; it’s like ads dropping in your path as you walk down the street and blocking your way. Unfortunately, many advertisers see this disruptive approach as the only way to reach people online.
The brands that will successfully avoid getting tarred with the irritation brush are those that create relevant, responsible and targeted messages. An online ad should add value to both the consumer and the website it appears on. Media agencies need to be more closely involved in the creative process, and media owners need to take more responsibility for understanding where ads appear – and most importantly why.
Behavioural targeting and tracking of target audiences came under fire in the survey, but this technique is often misunderstood or wrongly employed. Our own behavioural analysis for financial clients has shown that the purchase cycle for these products is much longer than other low-commitment items, and that tracking can improve brand recognition and help convert traffic into customers.
The key is knowing how and when it is appropriate to employ ads that are based on online behaviour; it is certainly not a case of one size fits all. When used in the correct way behavioural targeting, like other forms of online advertising, is far from intrusive and can create compelling and relevant ads that inspire consumers to interact with the brand.
By Rebecca Ward, Head of Digital Media. Equi Media Ltd