Unfortunately, much of digital advertising has lost focus. Unreliable data sources and changing privacy regulations have made the landscape more complex, with poor (and unethical) targeting practices hidden behind meaningless digital metrics.
Consumers are wondering why irrelevant promotions are filling up their screens, while businesses are getting increasingly frustrated with ads that don't deliver conversions.
This manifesto is our plan to fix bad targeting.
Seven pledges for more effective, and more ethical ad targeting, created and signed by the best minds in the advertising industry.
Digital marketing is a glutton, hoarding every scrap of data and sucking customers dry. People don't want to be part of a surveillance network and you don't need them to be. If you want to drive conversions, all you need is proven purchase data on what consumers buy, anything else is surplus to requirements. We won't take what we don't need.
Demographic segmentation relies on outdated stereotypes based on race, age and gender that don't accurately reflect people's buying behaviors. To avoid harmful stereotypes we need to segment people based on what they buy, not who they are. We vow to deprioritize demographic generalization, prioritizing data that reflects purchase intent. We will segment, not stereotype.
Cheap ad production and a ‘test and learn’ mentality has resulted in an internet awash with crap ads. Where once, creatives and consultants would compete to develop the very best ads, now we throw all our garbage out into the world to see what lands. That's not going to cut it. We vow to return to campaigns designed with creative excellence in mind, and to target them exclusively at those most likely to buy. We will run fewer, better, ads.
Today's consumers have a clear sense that they are being spied on, followed, and harvested for all they're worth. Digital marketing has positioned this unease as a new normal, but it's not normal. And it can't last. We vow to avoid all invasive technologies that do not rely on fully anonymized, relevant data and explicit, first-party consent. We will not be a creep.
Digital technology was meant to make advertising more transparent, but now the opposite is true. Businesses are awash with meaningless digital metrics, meaning any campaign can be justified with the right graph pointing in the right direction. We vow to never hide behind meaningless digital metrics. We will not let the metrics lie.
If we want to get better, then we need to get to the root of the problem. Training and education – whether formal or otherwise – is a vital part of understanding and improving the ethics and effectiveness of digital marketing. We will treat digital marketing as a discipline.
As digital targeting tools have made advertising faster and easier, we risk becoming lazier as an industry. We must fight back against the urge to take the path of least resistance. None of these issues are going away on their own. It's our responsibility to make ad targeting — and digital marketing — better. We will make digital marketing better!
Through Purchase Behavior Targeting, our hope is to open-up a new world of ad targeting, where digital marketers can reach new consumers by using annonymized transactional data covering what they've previously purchased online. No need to run scatter-gun ad campaigns that target everyone or stereotype. No need to siphon people's data or rely on useless metrics.