Unless you've been living under a rock on Mars, you know that your activity on (and off) the Web is constantly monitored and evaluated so that applications and businesses can create a "personalized experience" for you. That's why you keep seeing online ads that match whatever you might have searched for in the past few days.

However, while ad firms try to  position personalization as something that consumers find desirable ("a better browsing experience!"), that's simply not the case, according to a recent study from the market research firm InMoment.

The study revealed that three out of four consumers consider it "somewhat creepy" or worse they're confronted with too much personalization and about one out of four of creeped-out consumers will stop buying the personalized brand and switch to its competition.

Furthermore, if a brand does creep out its customers, one out of five will tell their friends and one out of ten will share their "ewww" moment on social media. And that's not a good thing for a brand because consumers remember personalized ads longer and more vividly than ads that are not, according to a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.

The negative effect--remembering that you were creeped out and sharing that you were creeped out--is intensified when creepy ads become intrusive or annoying. As a recent joint study conducted by Microsoft and Northeastern University concluded:

"the practice of running annoying ads can cost more money than it earns, as people are more likely to abandon sites on which they are present."

Given that consumers are (to say the least) unenamored of over-personalization, companies whose marketing includes online advertising should consider dialing the personalization back and instead try casting a wider net.

More important, if you're personalizing your ads or other elements of customer interaction, have an option for the consumer to opt out. And then stop pestering that particular consumer because then it's counterproductive.

Published on: Feb 27, 2018
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