Relevancy is the key to growing consumer acceptance of online ads
18 October 2012
UK consumers are increasingly discerning about advertising online and want it to develop in a way that adds value to their digital lifestyles.
It’s a bold statement, but borne out by one of the most comprehensive studies ever carried out into consumer’s attitudes to digital marketing in the UK by ValueClick Inc and the IAB.
The report explores UK consumers’ understanding of the mechanics of online privacy and advertising. Carried out by Kantar Media it reveals that consumers are largely positive about advertising online with 58% of the 2001 people who took part in the survey, saying that advertising on the internet can be helpful
The survey, which included a significant number of off-line interviews, clearly shows that relevancy is the key theme in the online display sector.
More than half of the people who took part in the survey (55%) agreed they would rather see digital ads relevant to their interests, increasing to 63% for 16-24 year olds. In fact the majority of survey participants (59%) would rather see fewer, more relevant online ads than more, less relevant ones.
One of the survey’s main aims was to examine the relationship between consumers and digital display, including how accepting they are of the new technologies that are shaping the market such as behavioural targeting, retargeting and data sharing.
Given that this has been portrayed as a controversial or sensitive area it is surprising that that a large proportion of consumers are relaxed about re-targeting if it means the ads they see online are more relevant to them. On average, 45% of survey participants agreed with the statement “I am happy for advertisers to show me relevant advertisements based on my previous web browsing activities,” rising to 58% for 16-24 year olds.
The ValueClick IAB report also revealed which categories of online advertising consumers find most useful. Display campaigns with special offers (42%) were most popular, followed by ads that remind them of products or services they are interested in (30%). The role that online ads can play in entertaining consumers was also highlighted with 23% describing online ads that are entertaining and well designed as useful, while a fifth of survey participants agreeing that ads that allow them to click through and find more information are useful.
The fact that people are interested in relevancy and would like advertising to add value is reinforced by the finding that overall 62% agree it would be useful to be able to control the extent to which advertisements they see online are relevant, rising to 67% for 16-24 year olds.
It’s striking how much more positive younger audiences are to online advertising and the potential of tailored messages and information.
They appear to have a more intrinsic interest in the technology behind brand campaigns and how it’s used and how it identifies them. For example 58% of 16-24s agree “I am happy for advertisers to show me relevant advertisements based on my previous web browsing activities,” compared to 45% of 25-44’s, 39% of 45-54’s, and 38% of the over- 55’s.
Almost half of 16-24s (48%) agree with the statement: “I accept that to provide free services such as search, maps and email, companies need to be able to access information about my online behaviour.”
This trend is also apparent when it comes to purchasing decisions prompted by online advertising. The survey reveals that 40% of 16-24 year olds have purchased a product or service because of an advert they saw online, compared with 35% of 25-44 year olds, 23% of 45-54 year olds and 24% of over -55’s.
The study provides a window on the future of advertising, and points to a “golden age” of online advertising in which younger more digital savvy consumers will increasingly set the tone of digital marketing.
But while the online advertising audience of the future may be more willing to engage, they will also be much harder to please, understanding full well that their browsing and buying behaviour online, tracked anonymously will help filter in ads they welcome and eliminate ads they don’t. In other words, they’ll be watching us too.
Richard Sharp, UK managing director, ValueClick Media