Controversy in Ad personalization has sparked critical questions. Do we disguise data? Is it safer to obscure the personal information used for targeting and keep customers unguarded in the dark? Well, let’s think about this; in the offline world, how do we treat friends, family, and anyone else we mean to maintain a lasting relationship with? Looking to the ‘real’ world enables us to predict what norms and publicity practices our consumers are willing to accept.
The fake news frenzy has brought concerns regarding how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. Yet the off-line world shows, as deceit is uncovered it comes with lasting ramifications. Eroded trust and broken relationships come at a cost. So why bother contemplating ‘how not to destroy’ relationships, if you have the opportunity to explore ‘how to build strong’ relationships. Honest relationships are strong relationships. Apply 5 rules to strengthen your customer relationships through ads.
- Transparency. Transparency is your means of integrity assurance for trust. Set yourself a minimum level for transparency and commit to it. Transparency levels range from obscurity to complete disclosure. Find a meaningful level of transparency that supports ethical conduct and encourages customer centricity.
- Selectiveness. Only use information that is appropriate and helpful given the context. For customers to benefit from ads in a compelling way, data must not be intrusive or inappropriate. Taking an offline perspective, how do you react when someone is crossing boundaries, getting into your business that’s got nothing to concern them? we close up. In the same way, consumers close up when their personal information is used to inappropriately target them. Apply insightful data collections to innovative ways of getting customers to open up- not to scare them away.
- Sensitivity. Data sensitivity promotes trust, safety, respect, and overall strong relationships. Avoid exploiting customer’s vulnerabilities in terms of health and medical conditions, sexual orientation, race and so on.
- Justification. Give grounds for collecting personal information and how it will add value to your consumers. LinkedIn explains their data policy to users stating, “We use the data that we have about you to provide, support, personalize and make our services (including ads) more relevant and useful to you and others.” Such mission statements are communicated both externally for customers and internally as guidelines for employees. If you can’t justify to yourself why this data is beneficial, you will have an even harder time convincing your customers.
- Just ask. I’d like to start with an Amanda Palmer quote from ‘The Art of Asking’. “Through the very act of asking people, I connected with them. And when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists — they don’t want to ask for things. It’s not easy to ask. … Asking makes you vulnerable.” In order to get what you want, you have to ask for it. Collect customer the old-fashioned way and ask. Use surveys, direct interaction, and give users the opportunity to directly state your preferences, just like in Netflix or Amazon. Before you ask, ground yourself in why you’re doing what you’re doing, know the data you want and why. Ask questions that are specific to individuals, making them feel confident and well equipped to answer your questions. Using open communication will give you a richer picture of the customer without giving customers the feeling of invasiveness. Keep in mind, don’t be afraid of hearing “no.”
Use transparency, selectiveness, sensitivity, and justification in your ad creation and data collection, and don’t be afraid to just ask. Apply norms natural to human communication to your strategy to maintain a customer centric approach and create value for your customers. Native advertising techniques are a great place to start as they involve sympathizing with buyer personas- adding value to them through relevant information, in a non-intrusive way. Its a form of advertising that is "in-feed" and inherently non-disruptive.