The case for targeted advertising

I really appreciate Rhodri Marsden’s views in today's @theipaper regarding targeted advertising and the mobile devices through which so many of them now reach us.

There will be endless debates on the merits of online advertising – just as there have always been in relation to traditional ”analogue” marketing – but the point here I think really isn’t about clicks and immediate ROI; it’s only when you look at the full attribution path that the true value of brand exposure across so many digital channels can be properly appreciated and quantified.

I often think that too much emphasis is placed on an individual click through from a placed advertisement. I absolutely believe that these ads should be placed and positioned competitively (with the click or impression spend very much geared towards trumping the competition) but if a pre-agreed attribution model is established, where each moment of exposure to a consumer is attributed a value, it hardly matters if said consumer clicks or not; the brand product is in that consumer’s head all the way to the ultimate sale goal.

Rhodri suggests that, at least among his personal contacts, he finds it difficult to find anyone who’s ever actually clicked through from an online advert and then bought anything. A more telling survey would, I suggest, be to ascertain how many people have bought products online that happen to have been deliberately exposed to that product in the days between first researching / searching for that product and actually making that purchase.

It’s this attribution model advertising that Google AdWords serves so well, and I’d hesitate to call it targeted advertising in the same way as FaceBook advertising is; it’s more responding to your immediate and cached browsing habits than any profile you’ve voluntarily submitted.

I find both attributed and targeted advertising models hugely exciting; I’d much rather be exposed to messages and brands that I’m actually interested in than those that mean nothing to me; whist targeted search and news feeds (positive reinforcement via a personalised “filter-bubble”) can be deeply irritating & divisive - targeted & attributable advertising helps everyone.

A huge part of what make 3B's clients' advertising efforts successful is the degree of attention we as an agency pay to attribution models and on-site conversion rates - if you want to know more about this aspect of our business, you know who to call!