What Shoppers Find 'Creepy' About Personalized Ads

Most businesses have been so focused on trying to predict every aspect of the customer journey to create personalized experiences they neglect to notice what customers think about these approaches.

Now, Accenture Interactive's (AI) new Personalization report takes a look at what shoppers like and dislike about personalized brand interactions.

For one, 41% find it "creepy" when they receive a text from a brand or retailer as they walk by a physical store; 40% find it creepy when they get a mobile notification after walking by a store, and 35% say it is creepy when they get ads on social sites for items they’ve browsed on a brand website. 

At the same time, survey respondents indicate they welcome experiences that allow them to control and tailor their own brand journeys.



Nearly half (48%) have left a business’ website and made a purchase on another site or in-store simply because it was poorly curated. 

Consumers don’t want to be limited by what a brand thinks it can predict about them. Instead, they want their favorite brands to design experiences that enable them to buy and consume what they want on their own terms, per the report. 

More than four in 10 (45%) like it when brands send out apology emails after offering poor in-store or online experiences, and 41% think it is good when companies offer an apology message on their website. 

Businesses can address this expectations by creating ongoing, two-way digital dialogues that resemble conversations customers would have with a sales or service associate, recommends AI. For example, using data attributes behind the scenes to try and predict the best experience for the customer would be similar to a sales associate hiding behind the counter watching shoppers versus actually engaging with them.

Besides being creepy, these efforts aren’t likely to be effective at guessing what that customer really wants or needs. Rather, brands need to create an experience that’s led by great design and enabled by data and technology.

Ultimately, consumers are open to sharing their personal data with businesses in exchange for better customer experiences. More than eight in 10 (83%) are willing to share their data to enable a customized experience, as long as businesses are transparent about how they are going to use it and that customers have control over it.

Moreover, 73% said that a business has never communicated with them online in a way that felt too personalized or invasive. 

And of the 27% of consumers who reported a brand experience that was too personal or invasive, 64% say it was because the brand had information about the consumer that they didn’t share directly, such as a recommendation based on a purchase they made with a different business. 

"Brand and consumer relationships are no different than their real-life counterparts,” the report concludes. When one party goes outside the relationship for information, the trust is broken.”

Accenture Interactive surveyed more than 8,000 consumers from North America and Europe in November 2017, split roughly even between men and women. 

The full report can be accessed here.

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