Quality Over Customization? A Look at Consumer Advertising Preferences

Digital marketing presents an ongoing list of challenges for businesses looking for innovative ways to reach new customers and engage with existing customers. With the landscape shifting away from quantity in favor of quality interactions with consumers, it’s important to consider the customer’s preferences when it comes to their ad experience online.

Research recently conducted by Integral Ad Science (IAS) has pointed to a few areas of consideration that businesses should be aware of as they take a deeper look at their advertising program and how to improve it.

Much of the conversation currently has centered around the idea of customized ad experiences. In days’ past, creating this customized user experience often involved the use of third-party cookies that allowed businesses to closely track consumer online activity and create advertorial content designed to “follow” them around.

While this is still a focal point for advertisers, with the upcoming demise of the third-party cookie, brands must now look at new ways to obtain consumer patterns of behavior as well as find more content options that can reach a consumer and prompt a conversion.

One of the main takeaways from the IAS research study is that consumers tend to seek out higher quality ad experiences, even showing favor to this type of experience over one that is fully customized to that consumer’s preferences or online behavior.

For example, the study responses show that consumers tend to interact more with higher quality ads, regardless of whether or not the ad is customized to the consumer’s behavior. The research responses also showed favor for interaction with ads in higher quality environments versus lower quality environments. This is exemplified by the poor performance often shown by ads on low scoring websites that look like they could be spam or otherwise malicious.

What does this research mean for marketers? If anything, this can be used as a form of reassurance that the death of the third-party cookie may not spell impending doom as some seem to think it does. By taking this research to heart, brands may be able to identify opportunities to reach new customers through higher quality ad experiences rather than relying on third-party data collected from cookies.

The placement also matters, according to consumers studied for this research. According to the IAS study results, consumers were highly likely (81 percent) to find it annoying if a brand’s ad appeared alongside what they would consider being low-quality content. This guilt by association can be a pitfall for brands, and the quality of the ad won’t matter if the ad is placed in the wrong spot.

By thoughtfully placing ads alongside high-quality content, a brand can hope to reach more consumers and have actual quality interactions with them. Taking consumer behavior and preferences to heart will help reduce wasted ad dollars and will help businesses find the best path forward as digital marketing continues to shift away from collected data and towards consumer privacy. Time will tell if this behavior pattern will change over time, but brands can rest assured that the cornerstone principle of quality over quantity still holds true even today.

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