Search for a product on Amazon or Google, and see if that same product pops up again in an advertisement tomorrow or next week. It’s called target advertising, and it’s enough to make you start singing the chorus to Rockwell’s 80s one-hit-wonder, “Somebody’s Watching Me.”
Somebody is watching you, or at least, somebody is watching your online browsing and shopping habits. But that’s not necessarily always a bad thing. Online advertising — largely ignored by most consumers — helps keep access to our favorite sites free of charge. The advent of social media and other personal information tracking software enables advertisers to customize those previously ignored ads to consumers’ specific interests. The ads aren’t new, you are just noticing them now because they actually apply to you.
Target marketing has become so commonplace that many consumers have become complacent about seeing familiar product searches on unrelated sites. A recent Harris Interactive survey of 2,262 U.S. adults revealed that consumers don’t mind Amazon and Google’s target marketing, but two-thirds of survey participants said they are uncomfortable with how Facebook uses user data to generate ads, reported Search Engine Journal.
The survey also indicated:
- 81% of consumers don’t mind if their grocery purchases are tracked as long as they get coupons based on what they purchase
- 66% of consumers are comfortable with Amazon recommending relevant products based on past purchases and site usage.
- 41% of adults do not have a problem with Google targeting ads based on previous searches.
- 38% of consumers would allow a merchant to send offers to a mobile device, provided the merchant has permission.
- 33% of consumers are comfortable with Facebook using profile information and posts to target them with ads.
The key to keeping consumers happy about possible privacy invasion is to offer them something in return as coupons at grocery stores or discounts for social media check-ins.
Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @emarrion_cmn.