Do Targeted Ads Flatter B2B Decision Makers?

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Flattery will, in fact, get you almost everywhere – in targeted online advertisements. When an ad implies that a viewer is “environmentally conscious” or “sophisticated”, for example, the viewer is likelier to pay attention to the ad, a new study says.

Furthermore, the viewer’s own perception of their trait may enhance, or even change, as a result of the ad.

The study – “An Audience of One: Behaviorally Targeted Ads as Implied Social Labels” -appears online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The power of suggestion was strong among college-aged Internet users, who had a propensity to embrace the traits implied by the ads, the experiments showed. In one study, after viewers saw an ad for a “green” product, users said they felt more eco-friendly. The ads also had a long-term effect on their behavior and thought: they were later more likely to donate to environmental causes.

The practice of “behavioral targeting” is not new: utilizing algorithms that combine browsing history and purchases to piece together an individual’s tastes, in order to choose which ads to show.

“Across four studies, behaviorally targeted ads lead consumers to make adjustments to their self-perceptions to match the implied label,” says the study.

In the B2B realm, there are several possible implications, says one of the study’s authors.

If a B2B decision maker received a targeted ad that implied something about their decision making abilities, explains Rebecca Walker Reczek. “The B2B decision maker could then feel like a more discerning customer as a result of this implied label, which would affect the way they subsequently made decisions, including, potentially, decisions for their business.”

Reczek, also associate professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, asserts that B2B decisions are made by people and groups of people that have the same psychology in many ways as individuals making consumption decisions.

“A B2B decision maker using their work computer would likely receive behaviorally targeted ads that would reflect the searches they do on that computer, likely a blend of personal and work-related searches, clicks, and purchases,” she added.
”So your behavior online at work would affect the targeted ads you receive, then affect your self-perceptions and behavior, consistent with the findings in our studies.”

Image copyright Tanveer Naseer

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Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in more than a hundred publications globally, over the course of twenty years. More about him can be found at DaveGordonWrites.com
Dave Gordon

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