Ad saturation and over-targeting damaging people’s trust in brands

New research further highlights the risks brands face as a result of over-targeting, with negative feelings towards advertising all stemming from precision marketing rather than brand building activities.

Brands are treading an increasingly fine line between advertising that is relevant and advertising that over-targets, with bombardment causing consumers to become ever more mistrustful and fed up with online advertising.

According to new research from Kantar, 54% of UK consumers object to being targeted based on their past online activity and 55% are completely apathetic towards advertising content. Meanwhile, 70% of consumers say they see the same ads over and over again and only 11% actually enjoy advertising.

However, demonstrating the power of relevancy and precision targeting when it is done right, 44% say they enjoy ads that are directly relevant, 45% agree that ads that are tailored to them are more interesting than other ads, and 61% prefer to see ads relevant to their particular interests.

The figures from Kantar’s third annual Dimension study, which is based on findings from 5,000 consumers in five markets with a combined total ad spend of $352bn (£270bn), come as advertising faces a crisis of trust.

According to Edelman’s trust barometer, advertising is now in last place of all industries measured with a trust level of 37% – behind banking, energy and telecoms.

Separate data from the Advertising Association shows public favourability towards advertising has decreased from around 50% in the early 1990s to just 25% in 2018.

At ISBA’s annual conference in March, Unilever’s outgoing CMO and president of the AA, Keith Weed, said brands must reduce bombardment, excessive frequency and retargeting if people’s perceptions of advertising are to improve.

“If we don’t tackle [the issue of trust] head on and right now, it will be an increasing challenge to all of us in the industry,” he said. “A brand without trust is a product, and advertising without trust is just noise. Trust is the key thing we need to engage with.”

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Kantar’s report also highlights the importance of context. 41% of Brits say they are more likely to believe advertising when it appears on the website of a trusted brand and 48% are more likely to notice ads on platforms they enjoy using.

“If brands and advertisers are going to rebuild – and retain – the trust of their audiences, we need to see more responsible use of data across the industry,” says Kantar Media’s CEO Mark Inskip.

“By adopting an integrated approach, balancing niche targeting capabilities with mass marketing tactics, brands can provide consumers with a helpful, additive experience. Those who are building verified first-party data into their approach and, where possible, that of walled garden platforms are able to paint a complete picture of the total consumer journey across all media.”