Do Not Forget About Quality

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For years I have been someone who said that I would provide all my information to an “ad management organization” if they could promise me that I would only see ads that are relevant to me. The promise of behavioral advertising.Kikkoman Advertisment

I would like to formerly retract that statement.

I have recently come to the conclusion that my appreciation or lack there of in regards to advertisements comes down to a matter of quality and not necessarily a focus on me. This thought occurred to me while watching the most recent IBM commercial where a techie is showing a suit his online avatar and the suit asks if the avatar can make money. The techie goes on to say that his avatar “does not do that” after confirming whether the suit meant real money or virtual money. Very funny commercial.

I’m currently not in the market for IBM services and don’t plan on being in the near future but did I mind watching that commercial? Absolutely not. If I eventually need IBMesque services, will I think of them first? More than likely. Humor, one of the potential key ingredients in quality, is an amazing tool for pulling people in.

I then started to think about the power of peer recommendation and the impact it has on my purchasing decisions and in turn how that relates to quality. Most exchanges with friends and associates are not riddled with quality and when a peer recommends something there are four factors that dictate whether that recommendation is one of quality:

  1. Do they actually have first hand experience with the product/service in question?
  2. Do I know any other peers that have used the product/service?
  3. Did I take them up on the recommendation?
  4. Did I have a good experience with the product/service?

If these sound obvious it is because they are. The quality of the recommendation means much more if these things are present. The question then becomes what is the medium of the recommendation. Is it a phone call? Is it a forwarded email? Is it an ad placed on my site? Is it an application I use in Facebook? From the formal to the informal, these are all types of recommendations.

The concept of recommendation has been expanded online by companies such as PayPerPost and more recently an ad campaign by Nescafe covered in WSJ on BlogBang.

BlogBang is a new ad network that allows advertisers to submit a brief and then have creatives build the advertisement. Bloggers then place the ad on their blog while the creatives and Bloggers split a percentage of the revenues with the advertiser. I don’t think of this as a form of advertising as self expression and in my opinion will most likely need refinement to succeed. People have to be passionate about the product/service and it is extremely difficult for Bloggers to appear as though they have not sold out when placing ads on their blog. The most telling comment in the WSJ article outlining the BlogBang model was:

As for the homemade ads, some Internet users are yet to be convinced. “I try to put them on my site, but they are not good quality and no one clicks on them,” says Mr. Dupin. “People like professional adverts.”

Again, we are back to the issue of quality. Behavioral advertising is an impending reality and one I embrace. I do however believe that businesses potentially face an even greater risk when it comes to behavioral ads.

For example: Let’s say I’m targeting potential customers by their psychographics, demographics and mobile GPS related data and I send them a promotion based on a product they have purchased and have also written glowing reviews about. And let’s say that in my infinite wisdom I send them an ad that is perceived as having little or no quality; I have just poisoned a perfectly healthy customer relationship. (It would be interesting to have a feedback mechanism in my ad now that I think about it.)

The point is that companies that lose site of quality in any type of advertising (broadcast, contextual, behavioral, etc) run a greater risk of alienating existing customers. If this sounds obvious, it’s because it is.

By Michael Myers

I’m an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I’m currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I’m passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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