The issue with personalized advertising

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We’ve all been sucked in by the hype around contextual advertising and many of us see these ads daily due to today’s tracking technologies. These technologies the tremendous amount of time spent online by consumers, understandably makes marketers giddy about the potential of personalized ads.

The issue, that I see is around a person’s frame of mind. Just because I’ve searched on a topic or it’s known that I like a specific brand, does not mean that I’m in the hunt for information related to a topic/brand right now. This is even worse on mobile devices. This is what makes search based advertising so compelling. It’s contextual and is specific to my current frame of mind.

As our attention spans continue to get thinly sliced, people will be “shifting gears” with increasing frequency and makes personalized advertising even more difficult.

People have been talking about the future of search as something that knows you want it before you realize it. Something that makes recommendations. Good luck with that!! As I go from topic to topic in a matter of seconds, it’s hard to imagine that any type of search or advertising is going to know where I’m going. Time will tell if this methodology is successful and it may simply be yet another case of “I’m not the target market for this service”. Until ads can become more real-time StumbleUpon-like with a touch of curation, expect this to be a real challenge.

By Michael Myers

I am an Associate 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, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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