A Sobering Reminder

eMarketer recently released a report titled “Consumer Attitudes Toward Digital Advertising 2021: Reaching the Concerned and Ad-Avoidant User.” As ever, it is full of useful insights and thought-provoking takeaways, which is great, given the shifting ad-tech landscape. It also contained some sobering information around consumer data and privacy; some that are, frankly, eye-opening. 

In the report, 70% of US consumers surveyed stated that they were uncomfortable with advertisers collecting their data. This same level of discomfort extended to data collection from social media companies (71%) and search engines (68%). Further, US internet users are also creeped out by how that data is used. About two-thirds of these users said that ads that followed them across devices were creepy, while 72% thought that receiving ads from a company that they didn’t know, simply based on their location, was also considered creepy. 

No wonder 58% of users who have ad-blocking tools in place do so to protect their privacy.

It isn’t all bad! This same report indicates that 73% of users think getting recommendations based on previous purchases is cool, and 55% like a reminder about a product that has been abandoned in an online shopping cart. 

Here, then, is the great tension digital media is experiencing. Consumers want undeniably personalized experiences, but demand privacy in the process. Granted, some of this tension is getting resolved with the removal of third-party cookies, the rise of contextual targeting, and the privacy changes found in iOS 14.5. 

But what is a marketer to do? Here are a few things to consider. 

Ask for Information, with Care

We’ve talked at length about why first-party data will be crucial moving forward. But given consumer hesitancy around sharing that data, brands will need to take great care when asking for consumer information. We will need to be transparent about what we intend to do with consumer information and, more importantly, why it will benefit the end-user. This could be a better ad experience or more-relevant product recommendations, perhaps even additional content free of charge. 

No matter what, we need to recognize the value exchange that comes with asking for, and receiving, first-party data. Importantly, we need to live up to the expectations in that value exchange. 

Prioritize Disruption over Intrusion

For those who decide or approve where great creative will run, it is crucial that we don’t forget that context is just as important as content. We often neglect the consumer perspective when determining media selection, prioritizing plan cost over plan value. 

Just because we can bombard a user with the same message over and over again, or we can buy overly interrupted inventory, doesn’t mean we should. Mobile video pop-ups may be a low-cost way to push video creative into the marketplace, but the user experience is terrible. Methods like this may have the lowest CPM of a consideration set, but I’d argue that leaning into these intrusive methods brings with it a long-term negative impact on a brand that simply outweighs the cost savings you might find today. 

Besides, wouldn’t your creative be more effective as pre-roll before a contextually relevant YouTube ad instead? Isn’t attention worth the premium?

Rethink Creative

My colleague Meghan Gates has offered a very insightful perspective on this topic here. It is a great read, and I encourage you to consider her point of view, as she articulates this point better than I can.

The insights found in this report provide a wealth of information and excellent food for thought. There is also a crucial reminder to always remember the end-user. No matter how precisely targeted your message is, if the end-user has a bad experience with media placement or creative, not only is it a wasted impression, but also a lost customer.

We’ve been talking about the importance of audience understanding since the launch of Atlas, and we stand at the ready to help your brand get to know yours. 

Let’s get to work.