In this new age of customer data privacy, there is certainly a case to be made against targeted advertising that uses both consumers’ behavioral and contextual data.
After all, internet users (a.k.a. consumers) worldwide — particularly in the EU and U.S. — remain leery of “lending” their personal information to brands, even if said sharing is meant to allow companies to personalize and individualize offers to them via targeted ads.
However, the pros of targeted advertising — delivering timely, relevant online ads to existing and potential customers you know have an interest in the products or services promoted to them — far outweigh the cons for marketing professionals today.
The simple truth is digital advertising isn’t going away anytime soon — nor should it.
Having said that, it’s in your best interest to adapt accordingly to this consumer privacy era to ensure your targeted ads both hit the mark and comply with users’ consent preferences.
That means delivering ads only to those who actually (and explicitly) state they’re fine with receiving marketing messaging from your brand that factors in their personal data.
One proven way you can ensure strong and continually improving targeted advertising ROI and alleviate consumers’ data collection and usage concerns is by applying their interest data in your ads — an undertaking the customer data platform (CDP) can help you master.
Improving your targeted advertising ROI (while considering consumer privacy)
Before diving into why it’s ideal to employ interest data for prospects and customers in your targeted advertising efforts in search engines and on social networks, let’s take a step back and evaluate the merits of online advertisements in this increasingly data-conscious era.
As with any modern marketing tactic put into play by brands today, there is a risk-reward component factor for targeted advertising businesses need to consider:
- The risks: The most obvious one is turning off your audience by over-personalizing — that is, serving up ads that up the “creepy” factor for them. Aside from that, there’s also the legal and ethical element of potentially (and unintentionally) delivering ads to individuals whose consent you don’t have regarding data collection and implementation in marketing activities like ads. Simply put, this can open up a can of worms for your organization and lead to hefty fines.
- The rewards: On the flip side, there are clear pros to targeted ads, when implemented properly. Arguably the biggest (and most apparent) benefit is you can use browsing-history data associated with past website visitors to show ads to those individuals — known and unknown contacts alike — across social media channels, web browsers, and devices and increase your chances for conversion: contact to prospect, prospect to customer, customer to subscriber, and the like.
It’s a fine line between executing targeted advertising in a lawful, principled manner that helps you meet your many lofty marketing goals that carefully considers consumers’ privacy and delivering targeted ads that cross the line and lead to audience mistrust.
“There is a stark difference between targeting consumers who are eagerly sharing their information for so-called relevance and targeting those who have given up, and who may not even understand how, exactly, their data is being collected and interpreted,” New York Times Business Reporter Sapna Maheshwari recently wrote.
Ideally, you regularly deliver targeted ads on Facebook, Google, and other online avenues based on audience interests (more on this shortly) to contacts in a careful manner they enjoy (or, at least, don’t mind) seeing and that doesn’t “intrude” on their privacy.
In a worst-case scenario, you employ over-the-top advertising that constantly serves a barrage of ads that ceaselessly stalk your target customers digitally — and annoy them to the point they set up ad blockers to evade your messaging (or opt out of it altogether).
It’s the former avenue that will lead to the targeted advertising ROI for which you (and your CMO) aspire. And your best bet to realize this sizable, always-improving marketing ROI for your targeted ads is to leverage your leads’ and customers’ behavioral data.
Personalizing your targeted advertising based on customer interest data
Whether you’re a B2B ecommerce brand broadening your digital presence or a DTC retailer looking to better leverage customer data, targeted ads based on specific individuals’ engagement are your key to unlocking greater targeted advertising ROI.
Consider the Interest Ranker 2.0 Listener in our pure-play CDP:
- BlueConic customers can add “keywords” to contacts’ profile properties that pertain to their content and product browsing habits and preferences (e.g., for different clothes of interest to a retailer). This helps our customers easily determine what offerings their audience is most interested in on their owned channels.
- These keyword-based interests are then ranked on a points system (i.e., based on whichever keywords, and products or content related to them, that matter to you most). In conjunction with behavioral data, this data can be activated in targeted advertising and other effective personalized and individualized messaging.
- As our customers collect more interests to their contacts’ unified profiles, they’re able to build increasingly richer segments that help them execute gradually more cost-efficient advertising across channels that improve their most critical metrics — acquisition, retention, and lifetime value among them — and reduce ad spend waste.
More customer conversions, less marketing dollars squandered, greater audience insights: That’s what the Interest Ranker 2.0 Listener, and our CDP, offer advertisers today.
In short, the more interest keywords from engagements tracked, the more success you’re likely to see with your targeted ads (not to mention your other important customer lifecycle marketing activities) and, in turn, the greater targeted advertising ROI you realize.
Using audience engagement to improve segments (and targeted ads’ success)
To take full advantage of the ability to capture and score your customers’ interests, you can use flexible, easy-to-adjust rules within the Interest Ranker 2.0 Listener to define engagement milestones or specific interests that matter most to you and your business.
Let’s say you’re a bicycle retailer looking to advertise more methodically:
- You could implement the listener on the product pages for certain models: best-sellers, high-priced bikes, accessories — any and all pages of importance to you. Anytime a contact lands on one of these pages, they’re assigned a pre-determined amount of points (again, based on the importance of those pages to you).
- What’s more, you can get even more intricate and assign rules to page elements. For instance, you can give points for any time a visitor scrolls beyond 50% of the page or clicks on or views a header or other page element that features keywords you’ve designated as ones to track in the listener.
- As net-new prospects, first-time buyers, repeat customers, and loyalty program members engage with you in various capacities (adding items to their carts, clicking calls to action, etc.) their profiles update dynamically, giving you a persistent, eternally accurate single customer view.
- You can then use the scores based on your rules to ensure the right individuals in your database remain in, are added to, or are removed from segments automatically (and in real time) and, in turn, boost your targeted advertising ROI (and, subsequently, your return on advertising spend).
That’s the beauty (well, one of the beauties) of the customer data platform:
Your contacts’ first-party data syncs with all your other martech, updates upon each interaction those solutions track (email opens, ad clicks, site sessions), and unifies into their respective CDP profiles moments later — not hours, days, or weeks later.
The lengthy time lags traditionally associated with segment creation, optimization, and hand-off to marketers from their IT teams are a thing of the past with the CDP.
Now, intricate, dynamic customer segmentation is substantially streamlined when marketing professionals connect their CDPs to related technologies — CRMs, ESPs, and the countless other acronymed martech solutions — as they constantly and immediately update.
It’s only with this real-time data access you can implement truly impactful targeted advertising — among other critical marketing activities — that resonates with the individuals and segments to whom they’re served due to their timeliness and relevance.
Enhancing your digital advertising ROI with a customer data platform
You have a fair share of goals for your modern marketing program: From augmenting your email marketing campaigns to better nurture and convert prospects to refining your on-site messaging to engage both unknown visitors and logged-in users.
None of the core objectives associated with your strategy — including and especially improving your targeted advertising ROI — will come to fruition without three things:
- 1) A concerted focus on consumer privacy in every marketing activity
- 2) A unified effort within marketing to prioritize customer identity
- 2) A leading customer data platform as your chief marketing database
With consumer privacy preferences top of mind with your online advertisements, there’s no reason it can’t and shouldn’t remain a prominent tactic in your marketing playbook.
Without a best-in-class customer data platform, though, your targeted ads will fail to reach the heights — and return on marketing investment — desired by you and your team.