By Jim McCarthy Jun 1, 2010 6 comments

Get Ready for More Targeting Failure

I’ve never read Uwe Hook before, but this piece really got my attention.  Uwe echoes my thoughts on the subject of ad “targeting” exactly.  Here’s the key tidbit:

“Behavioral Targeting 1.0 promised to deliver relevant messages to targeted audiences. I’ve tested these campaigns for years and they never delivered on their promise. Facebook’s Behavioral Targeting 2.0 will fail even more miserably.”
He’s so right.  High performing ads have been just around the corner for the entire 12 years I’ve been in the Internet business because, pretty soon, we’d be able to ‘target’ the ads in new ways, based on your browsing history, based on your demographic information, based on a combination of what you ate for lunch and the numbers in today’s date rearranged from high to low.

And yet, ad performance has gone from what was, in retrospect, pretty good to absolutely abysmal.  Here’s a graph I used in a presentation a few days ago to show the Click Through Rate on display ads in my personal experience since the late 90s.         chart ctr

Wow, look at the impact of all that targeting over the last bunch of years!  It’s funny because this has been going on for so long that people are saying things NOW that they said in 1998, except since some of those people weren’t there the first time, the think the idea is new!

Do you like to be targeted? I’m guessing not.  People are the ‘targets’ of assassination plots and investigations, not fun things that they actually like. (Or, as I once put it, “you’re targeted by the Air Force for a JDAM down your chimney or by a scam artist for using your identity to spend a weekend in Cabo.”)

No thanks.

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    • Neal Lasta

      Hi Jim. Great post. Very intriguing stats. What factors are playing here? I’m thinking maybe one factor would be the increase in population of internet users. I’m also thinking that as people get more accustomed to seeing these ads, they look at them more as nuisances or space fillers, and they would rather not deal with it. I personally think that ad companies should look for revolutionary ways to create and serve targeted ads. Something like the use of biometrics.

    • Facebook – The Next Chapter in Targeting Failure : BatesHook

      […] Great comment by Jim McCarthy. […]

    • Jim McCarthy

      Neal, I think it’s like overfishing. Ads could have lived and probably even thrived at lower volumes, but companies “fished out” the pond too quickly.

      On the other hand, people just don’t care about ads. In a way, it’s that simple.

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