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Photo credit: Ricardo Arce

Have you ever scrolled through social media only to see an ad for a product you were just thinking about? Have you ever gotten ads so specific to you that you could swear “they’re listening” or you’re being watched? Don’t be so paranoid! No one is watching you (except maybe your nosey neighbor). Algorithms and predictive modeling are just very, very good at what they do… which is also good for you, the advertiser.  

Every move you make on the Internet is tracked. With social media, apps, cookies—everything you do is turned into data. From all of this data a “profile” is built and the more you use the Internet, the more accurate your profile is. Facebook made a comment regarding this very thing, “We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information—not what you’re talking out loud about.”

And by “profile,” we don’t mean that the Internet knows you love dogs, Real Housewives of New York, and white wine. Instead what it knows is that you might look for a knee-length, pink, scalloped cotton dress with eyelet cut-outs, that your price range is usually between $50 to $100, and you’ll be shopping for the Derby season. This information combined with previous data showing that you normally buy from specific brands, love wedge shoes, and wear a size 8 can all add up to specific, tailored, and successful personalized advertising campaign. Thanks to this targeting, you’ll see an ad for Draper James with the perfect dress when you are scrolling through Keto recipes.

Not only did the targeting successfully lead you to make a purchase, but your behaviors in this transaction provide even more data to your profile. You’ll see Draper James ads and their competitor’s ads basically for the rest of your life, but you’ll also see ads for other things that people who bought the same dress are interested in. Everything you do not only adds to your data profile, your profile is compared to others to find similarities that may help predict likes, dislikes, and behaviors. Because your profile can be built from other people’s data as well as your own, the Internet knows you better than you know yourself.

So how does this fascinating advertising strategy help you as an advertiser? According to the Targeting of Advertising study, “targeting allows the firm to eliminate ‘wasted’ advertising to consumers whose preferences do not match a product’s attributes. As a result, the targeting of advertising increases equilibrium profits.” You reach the people who would/could/should buy your product and not the ones who wouldn’t. Cha-ching! More bang for your buck! On top of a higher ROI, this targeting leads to more successful campaigns. Reaching the right people means more clicks, more conversions, more leads and the best part, more purchases!

Targeted advertising, in conjunction with a great strategy, solid media plan, and well-placed dollars, can get your business where you want it to be. This tactic makes a little go a long way in helping you reach your business goals. So no… no one is watching you. But they definitely know what bourbon you like and how you drink it. Go on, use some targeted ads to increase your advertising success. Every Internet interaction is your advertising gain!