Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rule 10 - Use smart ads wisely

Smart ads (ads that target consumers interest), although not fully optimized in application, can have huge results for marketers and consumers. Marketers like HP, using smart ads on Yahoo's Smart platform, saw a 20 times higher than typical ROI during one campaign during 2009. Others have tried using smart ads, but had less than desirable results.

Smart ads are still developing and receiving their education on how and when to be used. Behavior is being modeled wherever consumers operate with the aid of technology. This could range from a network, website, or personal device. Information has always been collected, but technology is empowering information to not only be collected, but interpreted in real time. Opting out may mean your information will not be stored, but it does not necessary mean that the information will not be used to understand who you are.

An example of this is when Google teamed up with Compete to enable ads to target consumers based on the FIC score. Google used 2 million web users [that permitted tracking] to provide credit scores when signing up for new credit cards. Google then analyzed their click streams and built profiles for those individuals. Google then knew if you visit a certain site or have a similar click stream, you probably fall within a credit score. Thus, it brings up the question, should you be worried about being tracked, or allowing your neighbor to be tracked?

Numerous consumer advocacy groups are taking notice of this under the radar "smart" marketing. Center for Digital Democracy and U.S. Public Interest Research Group both were so alarmed by these advancements, that they petitioned the FTC to launch investigations into the privacy of marketing practices targeted at mobile phone users. The reason the issue is so sensitive is that once the information is out there and being used, there is no taking it back.

Of course, smart ads are ultimately to better the consumers life. It can help recommend products that would be preferred by consumers, it can serve interesting media and avoid displaying denture ads to 20 year olds, and it can present customized information in a world that is becoming ever more customized seeking!


  1. From an advertising/marketing perspective I can truly see the value of targeted “smart advertising”. Web analytics, data mining, purchasing behavior, geo locating, RFID; all of this information is extremely valuable in understanding the customer and building the perfect targeted marketing campaign. Unfortunately I still find the thought of people targeting me directly a little invasive. I think the Minority Report style of advertising is a bit too much for my taste. If you haven’t see the movie I suggest you check out this short clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBaiKsYUdvg

  2. Re: "to better the consumer's life"

    This concept was repeatedly advanced to counterbalance the "can you believe what they collect and know about you" statements throughout the WSJ's multi-part series on cookies, targeting, tracking and online privacy. It sounds nice, but it's really "to sell products and services more effectively."

    I absolutely accept the idea that highly relevant advertising is not advertising to the consumer - instead, it's actual content, information, even "news."

    It's not solving a problem I have, though. It's really not difficult at all to find the things for which I'm looking online. At best, then, I'm left with the "automated serendipity" offered by Simulmedia's Morgan.

    Instead, I favor the opt-in model proposed with Rule 10. I alert brands to my receptivity to their offers. That would "better" my life.

  3. I am very concerned about the "secret data collection" (without opt in). I found it very ironic for example that Google was painted as the hero for pulling out of China due to ethical reasons while at the same time ruthlessly collecting data, that could be abused some day. A German newspaper did a great article on this last year: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-68621901.html

  4. Here is a starting point for Google opt-out and smart ad customization:


  5. Also, check out this amazing tool. It allows you to make smart decisions about when to employ PPC smart ads versus when to opt for SEO targeting. This tool adds another dimension of "smart" to the process in reaching the right people at the right time (aka SEO smart technology).

    LINK @: http://www.spyfu.com/Recon/

  6. I must be a very abnormal consumer. I only have 2 ads that appear on Google. 1 for Little Giant Ladders and the other for Club Med resorts. For nearly a year these are the only 2 ads that appear (and I have never clicked on them). And I have searched for alot of stuff on Google. Does anyone else keep getting the same ads? Not very smart advertising if you ask me. But I agree with Ethan, its annoying and I am smarter than the "smartest" algorithm that Google or Amazon can possibly develop to advertise for me.

  7. I do not click on any ads while on Google as a general rule. It does concern me that companies are secretly connecting data, but I also under the philosophy in using "smart ads". I have noticed that the smart ads are not as "smart" as they could be!

  8. Smart ads seem like they woul work to me. I agree with Ryan, i don't get many smart ads on my google screen, and if they are there, i dont notice so they cant be that effective. I don't mind google catering ads to my likings, it makes shopping easier for me possibly.

    As for privacy, I never understood why a user wouldn't turn off cookies to prevent these smart ads?