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As Brands Continue to Navigate Change, 43% of Consumers Say Digital Ads Should be Personalized

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New research by Innovid takes a look at the “Now Consumer” and finds that personalization boosts revenue and brand loyalty; Study also reveals social platforms win on personalization

Innovid, the only independent advertising and analytics platform built for television, announced the findings of a commissioned study on consumer preferences for personalized advertising amid COVID-19. More than 1,000 US adults were polled online for the study in July 2020.

Innovid’s research study, 2020 Consumer Attitudes on Personalized Advertising, sheds light on the “Now Consumer,” as people continue to build new habits for how they socialize, shop, work, and respond to online advertising.

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that an advertiser’s ability to be agile and relevant can be the difference between success and failure,” said Stephanie Geno, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Innovid. “To adapt to the Now Consumer, marketers need to approach personalization with a mindset that matches the time in strategy, tone, creative, and device.”

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Personalization drives revenue and brand loyalty

When asked if personalization matters, 43% said it was important that the online ads they see are personalized, incorporating geography, interests and behaviors. Nearly 30% (29%) said they would be more likely to buy something if an ad was personalized. Personalization also influenced loyalty, with 31% saying they tend to be more loyal to brands that embrace personalized ads.

Unfortunately, while the ability to engage customers across marketing channels has improved, most brands still struggle to deliver personalized experiences across all touchpoints. In fact, only 3% of US companies currently leverage true omnichannel personalization, according to eMarketer.

“Advertisers aren’t doing enough to personalize across channels, despite strong demand among consumers,” said Geno. “COVID-19 is also accelerating the need to be more personalized as a one-size-fits-all approach in this environment can turn off customers, hurt your reputation and undercut revenue.”

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Social media wins on personalization

Social media platforms deliver more personalized ad experiences, according to respondents. Forty-five percent said they see more personalized ads on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, 20% said websites, 15% said YouTube, 13% said connected TV, and just 3% said streaming audio.

When asked what type of personalized ad they would pay attention to the most, social media (18%) was the top choice, followed closely by video ads (17%) and TV ads (17%). Website banner ads (13%) and audio ads (2%) saw the lowest interest.

“Consumers have articulated their desire to see personalization in social, digital video and CTV advertising.” said Geno. “Brands need to use data to develop a more tailored, omni-channel strategy, to engage and connect across all channels.”

In terms of the devices that drive personalized ad engagement, mobile came out on top, as 34% said they are most likely to click on a personalized ad on a smartphone or tablet. Thirty-three percent said desktop, followed by “any device” (6%), Smart TV (4%) and gaming console (1%).

“We recently examined campaigns across more than 600 advertisers and found that interactive ads on CTV produced an engagement rate almost six times higher than mobile,” added Geno.“Although interactive CTV ads are currently under-utilized by brands, they repeatedly outperform every other format and device. We predict as more brands embrace what is possible through interactive ads, clicking a CTV ad will become a learned behavior similar to engagement with ads on mobile and PC.”

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In-moment ads most popular

When asked to rank the types of personalization they prefer, 39% said “ads that understand and address the context of my moment,” such as the site they are on or the show they are watching, followed by “ads that incorporate general demographic information about me” (31%) and “ads that understand and address my online activity and preferences” (29%).

When asked what types of ads they would be most likely to click on if they were personalized, 41% said “events that interest me.” The top-five was rounded out by “offers on products in which I’ve shown interest” (38%), “new products or services I may like” (34%), “ads about my local community or from a local business” (26%), and “ads that help me learn more about a relevant topic or subject” (21%).”

Retailers dominate personalization

Asked which industry consumers want to see personalized advertising in, one-quarter picked retail, then entertainment (18%), CPG (14%), hospitality (11%), QSR (10%), automotive (6%), telecom (2%), and financial services (2%). Relatedly, when asked to identify brands that personalize effectively, Walmart, Apple, Nike, Target, and Kohls — all retailers — led the pack.

“While retail is an early adopter of personalization, all verticals can and should take advantage of the benefits of personalization,” said Geno. “Not only does dynamic creative improve relevance, it can help brands quickly address massive industry interruptions like what we’ve seen with COVID-19. Marketers that have the flexibility to swap out creative in real-time and adjust messaging on the fly can appeal directly to consumers during challenging times and maintain consistent, meaningful connections.”

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