Convenient Or Coercive? The Pros And Cons Of Targeted Online Ads

For decades now, human beings have grown used to being bombarded with advertising for a mind-blowing array of products and services.

Of course, once upon a time, these adverts were restricted to television, billboards and print media. However, nowadays, the rise of online marketing means that consumers are subject to a constant stream of virtual ads, popping up on their smartphones and laptops.

And that’s not all; thanks to the harvesting of online data regarding our browsing habits, these ads can now be personalised to reflect our individual online shopping habits and preferences.

How It Works

Unsurprisingly, targeted marketing is an increasingly popular tactic for businesses, helping them to tailor their advertising to specific demands and boost their customer retention rates. But is it really a positive thing for consumers, or is it an invasion of privacy?

Fortunately for browsers who tend to take the latter view, there is something you can do to stop receiving personalised advertising: employ adblockers.

What Are Ad Blockers And How Do You Use Them?

While some customers may enjoy the personalised nature of targeted ads, others aren’t so keen, and can become so frustrated with ads popping up while they browse that they opt to install an ad blocker.

Adblockers do exactly what the name suggests: they prevent ads from appearing as you browse the web. Some can even prevent websites from tracking your browsing activity, to cut off the personalisation process at the source.

Of course, businesses are growing savvy to this method of ad prevention, and some can even detect the presence of ad blockers and prevent people from viewing their content until they disable them. To help with this, you can opt to disable ad blocker detection, with the assistance of this in-depth guide for Mac users.

Now that we know what you can do about targeted ads, let’s explore the pros and cons of this form of online advertising, to help you make up your mind about whether it works for you.

The Benefits 

Here are some of the most significant advantages of targeted ads – for both businesses and their customers.

  1. They Are More Relevant

Some consumers find it preferable to receive ads related to products or services that they have an interest in, rather than random pop-ups. For these customers, targeted ads can be very useful and appealing, as they can keep them up to date with the latest products from a particular brand that they like. This, in turn, benefits the business, as it helps them to keep the channels of communication open.

  1. Targeted Ads Boost Engagement

As well as helping businesses keep in touch with existing customers, targeted adverts based on someone’s browsing interests can also help them to engage with new shoppers.

Personalised adverts give the consumer a chance to pursue their interest by purchasing a related product or service, and this, in turn, helps the business in question to gain more revenue. In that respect, targeted ads can provide a win-win situation.

  1. Lead Nurturing

Finally, a benefit of targeted ads – for both consumer and business – is the way it helps with what is known as ‘lead nurturing’. This refers to the ongoing process of building and maintaining a relationship between brand and consumer that covers every stage of the purchasing process.

By nurturing a relationship with their customers – aided by the use of targeted ads – businesses have a better chance of retaining more consumers and boosting their revenue into the bargain.

The Downsides

As you can see, there are several significant benefits to the use of targeted ads. But what about the cons?

  1. Invading Privacy

For those customers who enjoy being sent personalised ads, this method of marketing is a positive thing. But for others, being shown an ad for something they have only just casually Googled can seem invasive and perhaps even disturbing.

It can evoke uncomfortable feelings of being constantly under surveillance, which can understandably be off-putting rather than appealing.

  1. Data Security

Closely tied to the question of privacy is the matter of security. Keeping their sensitive data safe is a key concern for Internet users these days, particularly as hacking and other forms of cyber-attack are such a constant and significant threat.

Having businesses harvesting your information so that they can send personalised ads can prompt fears about the security of consumer data, even with the implementation of GDPR.

As a result, it’s vital that any business that wants to send targeted ads asks permission from their consumers before acquiring personal data, such as their browsing preferences.

Summing Up

There’s no doubt about it: personalised advertising is a thorny issue for many consumers (and companies). While some customers may find them helpful, and even preferable, others may find them a little too invasive.

The good news is that, if you are one of the latter, you can always opt out by refusing to give permission to use your data – and you can use ad blockers, which will allow you to continue your browsing hassle-free.