Microtargeting: powerful marketing tool or threat to democracy?

Microtargeting: powerful marketing tool or threat to democracy?

Considering that strategically targeted ads are clicked on up to 670% more than ordinary ones, it’s no wonder that microtargeting campaigns are becoming more and more important. Segmentation and microtargeting are valuable for commercial purposes and can help deliver content of great interest to customers. However, they also have a potentially dark side — especially if information is inaccurate or biased and meant to sway someone’s preferences, or even their vote.

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The days of mass segmentation are gone

While getting a message to the audience is imperative, getting the right message to the right audience is what really matters for every brand. By working with social media advertising platforms and the data they collect, marketers can target specific audiences using all or some of the following:  interests, location, employer, posts reacted to, web pages visited and much more. With all this information, it’s much easier to craft content tailored to the chosen audience and capitalise on viewers’ interests. The results of each targeted campaign can then be monitored, analysed and adjusted as needed to ensure a brand gets the best possible results. This technique is shown to better engage customers, build brand awareness and increase sales by delivering content that is interesting and helpful to customers.

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Weaponised ad technology

While getting a message to the audience is imperative, getting the right message to the right audience is what really matters for every brand. By working with social media advertising platforms and the data they collect, marketers can target specific audiences using all or some of the following:  interests, location, employer, posts reacted to, web pages visited and much more. With all this information, it’s much easier to craft content tailored to the chosen audience and capitalise on viewers’ interests. The results of each targeted campaign can then be monitored, analysed and adjusted as needed to ensure a brand gets the best possible results. This technique is shown to better engage customers, build brand awareness and increase sales by delivering content that is interesting and helpful to customers.

Call for more transparency

Earlier this month, the international charity Privacy International called out tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google for their lack of political ad transparency.  The body highlighted how this is restricting user insight into how and why they are being targeted by such ads on social media platforms. A lot of other organisations around the world have also raised the alarm and called for tighter regulation of use of personal data by tech companies.  But too little has yet changed. Taken overall, microtargeting shouldn’t be thrown out of the window, despite misuses of data.  In this age of information overload, crafting a message that cuts through the noise and reaches the right audience is crucial for brands.

Microtargeting can be a great marketing tool or an unethical tactic, depending on who’s using it and how.  As with most technological tools that affect personal data, ethical practice, transparency and regulations are key – for both brands and political parties.

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