2. Perfecting personalisation

Tim Lawrence

Head of Strategy & Planning

What is it?

The industry has been working to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time for a number of years, shifting towards a data-driven, more personalised approach to advertising and web experience. There’s plenty of evidence to show that a personalisation strategy is effective, but for many it’s been hard to implement.


Now there are new challenges; with consumers increasingly aware of data misuse, when does personalisation become invasive? A recent Gartner report declared 80% of advertisers would abandon personalisation by 2025. Do advertisers know when to draw the line?

How will this impact you?

As consumers, we love the personal touch – when we experience something that’s relevant to us or makes us feel special. So, when it comes to marketing, brands have always tried to be relevant to consumers in order to stand out from the competition. Personalisation can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend (Personalizing at scale, McKinsey & Company, 2015) and, powered by greater access to data, advertisers have increasingly aimed to deliver one-to-one personalised targeting.


However, in their eagerness to drive performance, many brands have got it wrong. Some marketing efforts give off a creepy vibe by overtly showing they know where you’ve been and what you’ve looked at, and others are just poorly targeted. Both have a negative effect. Consumers also have privacy concerns that should worry advertisers:

  • Only 17% feel it is ethical to track online activity for the purpose of personalising ads

  • 59% believe that personalisation to create tailored newsfeeds – precisely what Facebook, Twitter and other social applications do every day – is unethical. (RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019 )


Consumers will increasingly be able to cut ties with brands who get it wrong; GDPR, ITP 2.0 and ePrivacy will make it easier to opt out of ads, impacting already brittle trust in advertising and brand favourability. Consequences of over personalisation have never been higher and in a recent survey, 51% of marketers say their biggest concern is getting the right balance between personalisation and privacy (Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report, 2018)

The iCrossing view

Personalisation needs to become more meaningful; improved data collection and deeper segmentation will allow more tailored audience messaging. Better customer insights and a test and learn process will allow brands a better chance of success. When targeting is so narrow, the message needs to be right, and if a brand cannot truly deliver this through their data and messaging, they should consider how personalised they want to be.  


Brands also need to consider when it’s necessary to deliver one-to-one messaging, and when broader segments are the best solution. While technology allows advertisers to deliver personalised messaging, it must form part of a wider marketing strategy. There’s no point being highly targeted yet not reaching prospects in an effective way.


Finally, there’s an onus on brands to create a targeting strategy with guardrails to avoid over targeting, with checks and balances in place on ad copy and frequency. This may sound simple, but many brands that chase performance risk seeming like a stalker. So understanding when you want to be hyper-targeted (and when you don’t) will be vital in 2020.



<<< #1: The customer takes centre stage


>>> #3: Shoppable everything


iX 2020 Trends

2020 Trends

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