’Tis the season of targeted holiday advertising. According to the AA/Warc Expenditure Report (UK), brands spend 35% of their annual ad budget in the Christmas period, more than any other time of the year. Christmas advertising spend in 2014 is setting records (up 24% in the UK over the last 5 years), with much of that moving online and to mobile.
Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good, but marketers know all the sites you’ve visited and all the products you’ve browsed. It can feel a little like Elf on the Shelf has been watching your every move.
Marketers have been working hard to leverage consumer data to create better targeted and more personalized advertising, but there are a lot of kinks to work out. Retargeted ads appear for products you’ve already bought. Shopping history is used to create assumptions about shopping intent that may be far from reality. In targeted ads, there’s a fine line between useful and annoying.
This can be annoying this time of year, when ads can leak your gift plans to family members who might use the same computer. Mashable recently posted an article titled “Are retargeted ads for the stuff you’ve bought ruining Christmas?”
The article included this interesting reaction from Eweware’s Dan Vrony: “Ad networks are very good at remembering and very bad at forgetting … This aggregated notion of my identity that becomes something that I can’t control and owned by these networks like Facebook and Google and I’m not sure of what they’re doing with it. That makes me uncomfortable.”
As marketers enthusiastically embrace the promise of big data, I think it’s important to be aware that not all consumers share that enthusiasm.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
Here’s a related cartoon inspired by retargeting ads this time of year.