"As we have developed the ability to target people more and more precisely on the web, click-through rates of these hyper-targeted ads have dropped dramatically."The question is, why? If you believe conventional advertising wisdom, being able to target people based on individual behaviors, attitudes, and demographics ought to make advertising substantially more effective. And yet no one's smarter than the facts. It hasn't made online ads more effective. So what's going on?
A thoughtful friend of mine, Bob Knorpp, who hosts the BeanCast, wrote the other day to offer his opinion. Bob said,
If I may paraphrase Bob's point, it is this: The problem is not with the theory of hyper-targeting, the problem is that it's not being executed very well. Only time will tell if Bob is right about this, but I'm unconvinced.
I have watched digital media people do what they do, and as far as I can tell, they're pretty damn good. "You can’t parse humanity." While Vinny's ex-boss may have overstated his case a bit (there's no future in trying to sell golf balls to tennis players)
Second, I think that the quality of the message provides us with far more opportunity than the meticulousness of the targeting. The marketing industry seems to have bought into the fantasy that media strategy -- not the message -- is where the leverage is. It is pretty clear from the results that, so far, this hypothesis has been wrong.
Maybe Knorpp is right and we just need to execute more effectively. I'm officially skeptical.