An Audience of One: Behaviorally Targeted Ads as Implied Social Labels
By Professor Christopher Summers (et al.). Assistant Professor of Marketing at Darla Moore School of Business.
Targeted ads may change how your customers see themselves.
While most advertising relies on group segmentation (e.g., demographics), targeting based on behavior is becoming increasingly common. The increased specificity in behaviorally targeted advertising gives people more personalized recommendations, and that’s a powerful driver of purchasing intention. Specifically, when people think the advertiser is aware of who they are, they also think that the advertiser knows what products are best for them and what they’ll enjoy most.
This behavioral based messaging can also have effects that extend beyond purchase intentions. Our research reveals that consumers may view themselves and their traits differently in response to the marketers’ ‘characterization’ of them. For example, if a behavior-based ad implies that a consumer is athletic, that person is not only likely to feel a slight boost in how athletic she thinks she is, she is also more likely to evaluate products and brands she encounters afterward with athleticism as a primary criterion in mind.
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