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BizReport : Advertising archives : March 29, 2016

Expert: How to take the 'creep' out of personalization

The proliferation of digital data about consumers has created both tremendous opportunity and real concern about privacy and "creepiness." One expert explains how brands can go from 'creep' to 'personal'.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: For years experts have insisted that ads and content be personalized for audiences. Why, now, is personalization being called 'creepy'?

Jeff Hirsch, Chief Marketing Officer, SundaySky: The opportunity is for content, including advertising messages, to be highly relevant and meaningful to an individual. Free media is supported by ad revenue and providing real value to the consumer in this way supports the entire free market content ecosystem. That said, irresponsible use of data can be scary. What level of personalization is considered inappropriate? This is not a legal issue but a consumer respect issue. We can all agree that using personalized data without at least a level of inferred permission is not OK. That leaves the question of what constituted permission. Social media is making that question much harder to answer as never in history have so many people shared so much about themselves publicly.

Kristina: Can brands personalize without the creep factor?

Jeff: Consumers have come to expect that when they search or shop for something, that data will drive relevant messaging post search. If you are looking for a specific product and you do not buy it, the merchant reasonably assumes you are in market and their goal is to provide you with the data you need to make a decision. Product-level targeting like this is not creepy and provides real value to all parties involved, including the consumer. If you take that same marketing message and you call out the shopper by name, you have crossed the line. Consumers expect that the information they provide implicitly, such as search behavior, is fair game in commercial situations. However, information they did not call out specifically, such as their name or income level, is not OK to speak about out loud.

Kristina: At what point is data becoming 'too much'?

Jeff: Never. The more data brands have, the more informed their decisions can be about balancing relevance with consumer respect.

Kristina: What are your top 3 tips for brands to use data but not be intrusive?

Jeff: Be clear about how you collect data and what you do with it.
Offer consumers a way to opt out of the collection and use of their data.
Balance everything you do against respect for your customers and prospects.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: ad personalization, advertising, personalized advertising, SundaySky

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