Consumers Have Preferences for Personalized Digital Ads

Email, social lead preferred personalized ad formats

Personalizing digital ads has become a priority for marketers, as data has made them better able to segment and target their consumer base. And in general, consumers have shown a fair amount of receptivity to these personalized ads. In an August 2012 survey from ChoiceStream, 35% of US internet users said they would like to receive personalized ads or recommendations online.

Depending on the format, consumers may have even come to expect a certain degree of personalization. A Responsys survey conducted by Ipsos Observer in April 2013 found that more two-thirds of US web users thought it was important that marketing emails be personalized.


Social and mobile were also channels where personalization was prized, cited by 44% and 40% of respondents, respectively. Even display ads, which are often considered among the “creepiest” targeted ads—especially when they reflect the consumer’s browsing history—saw a fair amount of interest in personalization (36%).

But what are consumers interested in seeing in these personalized communications? According to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey of US and UK web users in March 2013, recommendations for products that marketers think the consumer might like came out on top, cited by 48% as the feature they would most like to see in a targeted ad.

Websites that had been customized for the consumer also saw interest from 37% of consumers. However, this type of personalization was almost as likely to turn the consumer off, with 31% saying this was the type of personalization they were least interested in.


Communications from companies that included content individualized for the consumer tied with websites, with 37% of respondents interested in this type of personalization.

But before marketers rush to personalize every digital ad they buy and every email they send, it’s also notable that not every consumer embraces targeted ads or marketing messages. Forty-one percent of respondents told the EIU, “I don’t appreciate personalized communications in my online interactions with companies.”

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