How Much is Too Much Personalization?

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Everyone knows what it is like to be browsing the shoes you have been eyeing, only to be retargeted with that exact item minutes later on another device.

In this instance, the consumer has shown specific interest or intent for that product. Personalization ushered the consumer along the consideration path they are currently on.

But, if the consumer has not shown any sort of intent for a specific product or service, should the advertiser use broad signals to pre-select a product or service from their portfolio for the consumer? If we use broad signals to identify consumers as better suited for one product over another, are we forcing them down a path that may not be right for them because we do not have insight into specific traits? For example, if an advertiser sells 4 different products, are traits like age, demographics, income or profession enough for the advertiser to show this consumer only one specific product?

This raises the very important question; how much personalization is too much?

The experience starts with the website

Marketers should structure advertising strategies to allow consumers to self-select their consideration path as much as possible. Building consumer-driven experiences start with the website. Higher funnel landing pages that showcase multiple offerings allow consumers to choose the product or service that best fits their needs.

Advertisers should use creative as a method to showcase full offering

Rich media creative options are an excellent way to showcase multiple products or service offerings. For example, a travel accommodations brand may showcase the benefits of multiple properties, allowing consumers to choose their individual site experience. Beauty brands can use quiz-like functions within rich media to allow consumers to discover the products that best fit their needs.

Additionally, sequential messaging allows the advertiser to test and measure various products and service offerings. For example, a financial services provider may choose to show a combination of branding and high-level investment messaging to start. This would be followed by specific product messaging based on the user’s engagement on the initial message or client site. If they showed intent for a specific product, they would be shown that specific product when targeted again. If not, they can be shown further brand messaging to encourage engagement with a specific product further along their journey.

The wide array of very similar investment and advice products may all be relevant to the same target audience, increasing the need for a consumer-driven journey and personalization. This will overall be a better experience for consumers, and it introduces them to the full breadth of products through advertising.

Over personalization is limiting to the consumer and the marketers

Personalization has its place within a data-driven media strategy. If a user has researched a specific product on the marketer’s site, specific messaging for that product served elsewhere may be welcomed.

However, data also gives us the opportunity to determine when the user is still in the researching phase. In the research phase, over personalization can inhibit the discovery phase for the consumer. Looking at our financial services example, if the user is only exposed to an investment product for consumers with a higher net worth, they may be turned off to the brand entirely, as it seems they are not aligned with that product. This is a case in which over personalization can lead to a negative brand experience.

Brands should reassess their segmentation strategy

To best understand the need state of the consumer, the advertiser should focus on the strongest signals like search intent or website activity to align product messaging. For a broader strategy, opportunities that allow the consumer to choose their own journey will offer the most seamless brand experience. As advertisers, it is our responsibility to guide the consumer to their decision not to force them. With a broader strategy approach, the consumer has access to a wider breadth of products and an understanding of their options. This ultimately leads to greater potential in building trust, rapport and opportunity for the brand.


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