You wouldn't go to the desert expecting to see polar bears. In the same vein, you probably don't visit the NPR website looking for a Gatorade ad. That's not to say the public broadcaster wouldn't accept corporate underwriting from the successful sports drink maker, but the issue is consumers are less likely to pay attention to advertisements when they're in an irrelevant setting, according to recent research conducted by Wakefield Research.
Looking into the perceptions and behavior of 2,000 adults over the age of 18, consumers found the ads on retail sites 18 percent more relevant than ads found on news sites. But does relevance translate into action on the part of consumers? In short, yes. With ads placed in an appropriate online setting, people who saw them were 20 percent more likely to click on the advertisements (Tweet This!). Consumers were also 21 percent more likely to make a purchase as a result of seeing the ad.
...But I Already Own One of These! Many companies confuse the concept of relevance with personalization, which costs businesses a lot of time, money and labor to figure out how to get it right. Rick Erwin, president of targeting at Experian Marketing Services, explained on the company blog the way most companies operate is making ads personalized by analyzing the search habits of consumers and then offering them similar products. You may have experienced this with Amazon or iTunes. However, Erwin's anecdote about purchasing a TV highlights some of the glaring holes in this approach. He had actually bought the TV the company was pitching to him, making the ad "personalized" but effectively irrelevant.
Who's going to buy multiple kinds of the same product, especially large-scale electronics? It's faulty strategy and certainly doesn't instill confidence in the consumer that the company knows them. So, the lesson here is personal doesn't necessarily mean relevant, which can hurt your business. According to Erwin, if customers don't trust the company, they'll be less willing to share information that would potentially enable your company to create more applicable ads. In the rush to make ads personalized, don't neglect the finer details - like what your customers have already bought.
Trust-Building Through Relevance One of the benefits of creating an ad strategy that targets consumers with pertinent ads in an applicable online setting is developing this sense of trust. If you have doubts, you can take a quick look at the way CVS Pharmacy has developed an art form out of tailoring product ads for visitors to their website. The New York Times recently covered the bold strategy the pharmacy is pursuing to make sure their customers are benefiting from data gathered about their shopping habits and preferences.
For consumers who have enrolled in the ExtraCare loyalty program, CVS developed the myWeekly Ad online platform, which uses previous purchases to suggest sale items, as well as offer deals and rewards. What's more, users of the Internet resource will be able to create personalized shopping lists that can be managed according to the specific store they shop at most frequently. As opposed to the traditional circulars that are more of a blanket strategy to offer all consumers the best deals, this latest strategy is playing off relevance to create personalization.
While finding out what is relevant to your customers can seem like a daunting task, the advertising landscape is increasingly leaning in this direction and analytics service providers and online resources are there. Consumers and clients are equally engaged in buying products and services that are relevant to them, and research shows they're more likely to purchase when ads align with their needs.