Forget the Millennials: Where Targeting High Tech Misses the Mark

Digital Advertising exists to reach the right person with the right message at the right time. The first step is understanding that person. To do this, we AdTech execs like creating labels. People are Healthy Eaters, Baby Boomers, Shoe Shoppers, Cord Cutters, or Millennial Moms. Race, gender, income, marital status, shopping habits, etc. all factor in.

As if that weren’t enough, we look at location, behavior, day parting, social activity, Web viewing, political affiliation, even the weather. Just take a look at Facebook’s ad targeting offerings, and you can see the endless options that allow advertisers to determine reach. The onion-like layers of targeting go on and on.

Data Management Platforms, first and third-party information, facial recognition, and AI make it all possible. Even with such an array of options, however, so much of what we do misses the mark. 34% of clicks on digital ads are mistakes, and 40% of people cannot tell you why they chose to click on an ad. Ads, of course, are not perfect. None of us are solely beer bros or Baby Boomers or whatever. We are much more complicated than just a collection of categories. Maybe that healthy eater is also a video gamer, the Baby Boomer could spend hours on the dark web, and the mom might be into weightlifting.

For all our complexity, however, there are some things we all have in common:

Nobody likes interruptions: Regardless of demographic, no one likes being interrupted. Just take the fact that 82% of consumers say they have closed a webpage with an ad that autoplays. Pushing ads onto people by interrupting their habits is becoming less effective. You must provide value to a consumer instead of shoving something in their face. Think strategically about how to advertise in a way that won’t inconvenience consumers, such as native advertising, value exchange, and sponsored content. This will be more effective across the board.

Everyone wants to feel understood: Spend time consciously thinking about who your consumer is before even beginning to create an ad. What will matter to them and make them feel understood? Show you know your consumer and can meet their needs with your product or service. This will connect you with whoever you want to reach, regardless of their background.

Everyone wants to feel respected: Going along with the idea of understanding your consumer, you must show you respect them as an individual as well. 56% of consumers feel online ads insult their intelligence. You want those who view your ad to walk away with a positive impression of your company. This will not be the case if you insult or invalidate them. Respecting your viewer is foundational to running an impactful ad campaign. This thinking must start before targeting technology is touched.

Everyone reacts well to beautiful visuals and compelling stories: The most powerful advertising connects to a person’s emotions. Just take a look at the Super Bowl. We can all be moved by powerful storytelling. Poor ads will do nothing for you even if you have the most incredible technology and targeting. Brands who tell their story will leave an impression and move consumers. The advertising content you create is just as important as where your ad appears.

Great advertising is persuasive and memorable because it speaks to our shared humanity. The right message can bring everyone together. Targeting tools are helpful, but technology can’t bring a brand to life on its own. Don’t lose site of what really matters.

Read more: A Guide to Generation Z for Marketers

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