Online advertising is broken, here’s how to fix it

Targeting and optimisation are now at their most detailed level for some time, but why is relevancy still an issue for some online advertisers?

As is key with many areas of online advertising and marketing – personalisation always leads the way. Multi-platform delivery allows advertisers the ability to target users across web, social media, email and through search/display, thus providing next level distribution.However, within this freedom lies the problem, particularly when advertisers persist with one dimensional ads that effectively bombard the user.

Contextualisation and personalisation is everything, and adds relevancy to otherwise simply formulated ads. This is the key to providing valuable ads, that gain good results.

As was already pointed out, contextual targeting is an option that is now available to all advertisers and marketers, yet isn’t a one-stop fix. The key to building targeted ads warrants the development of some sort of strategy and data analysis.

Google have recently taken the resources available, one step further. ‘Google Analytics 360 Suite’, with its Audience Centre, Data Studio and Optimisation solution will certainly go some way to helping brands be better at placing customers at the heart of their marketing.

Good ads take time, here’s what to consider…


Again, data…


The information that we have available for our audiences is a way of pre-empting which ads are appropriate.

Google is always a starting point, but the boundless nature of data demands looking beyond some of the basic targeting methods Google provide.

Building a better all-round picture provides another layer of accuracy. Utilising analytics, your own CRM database, social networks, email reports – and combining this with a joined-up approach enables sophisticated data research.


Learn and adapt


This is another area which is ignored due usually to stagnation in terms of data analysis, but also copy and targeting. What’s relevant to someone now, may not be relevant in two months, two weeks, two days – or sometimes even two hours time. This could be product related, but is almost inextricably related to context.

Think cold-calling. Frequency preferences are rarely considered by online advertisers, but are an option for email campaigns for example.

Take this into account, and use post-campaign reporting to analyse results and identify patterns in audience behaviour. Use this newfound information in your next campaign.


Audience first, adverts and brand second


Adverts are an experience for every individual they serve. Once you have targeted the correct individuals, build the right adverts around them.

This is an essential element of why blanket re-targeting and wider remarketing efforts often fail. Despite results for these type of campaigns resulting in a fair few conversions, the overall impact on brand can often be negative – simply because many of those targeted simply didn’t want the product or service.

Be much more granular with your targeting. This again involves testing in order to design separate strategies depending on audience.


Empathy should be at the heart of online advertising


The rising use of ad-blocking software shouldn’t be the only reason why online advertisers should feel more empathy for their audiences. Poorly targeted advertising often signifies a poor product and is a wider reflection of the advertiser’s respect of their customers’ journey to their site.

Respect is the key term here. It’s an idea echoed by Jay Lauf of Quartz in a recent article. “I saw Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity speak about his organization’s approach to solving problems [and] my eyes were opened to the importance of empathy in what we build and how we build it. Sinclair has a simple mantra that sums this up nicely: ‘Design like you give a damn.’”

We should all advertise like we give a damn, and remember that online isn’t a medium in which we can hide behind just because we are not confronted with our audiences face-to-face.

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