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How much information is too much information?

14-February-2011
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How much information is too much information?

For marketers and agencies, one of the greatest reasons to invest online has been a combination of reach and customisation, made possible by the immense amount of data that can be gathered about users to target ads according to behaviour. For many users though, this is becoming a cause for concern, particularly in the US. In India, the level of such targetting has not risen to the point of being particularly onerous or annoying as yet, and so, even as American legislators are mulling laws that will allow users to opt out of tracking mechanisms, here in India we have a chance to ensure that things never come to such a pass.

Sandeep Amar, Head of Marketing, Indiatimes.com, said, “The technology is there, and advertising can become really intrusive. But that doesn’t serve the purpose of the advertiser. When you’re doing marketing, you are not interested in knowing the personal details of the customer – you just want to be able to give him an ad which will serve his needs well. People will misuse technology, like they did bulk SMS, but most serious players, who are looking to the long term, will themselves make sure that the audience has no cause for concern.”

Building in safeguards and keeping the audience engaged without bringing in fatigue is what the online advertising industry is treating as a cornerstone.

According to Nitin Mathur, Senior Director Marketing, Yahoo! India, there were three facets to advertising – science, art, and scale. He said, “We hear people talk about ads on TV, but compare that to how rare it is for people to tell their friends about a creative ad on the Internet. The Science of advertising on the Internet is well understood, and networks like Yahoo! can deliver scale, but we have to work with brands and agencies to help them to understand the art of it.”

“If advertisers can understand these three elements, then no one complains about ads. Targetting is not one-on-one, and it is not intrusive. If you don’t chase a user like a heat seeking missile, they will find value in the ads. The key is to serve the right ad in the right place at the right time, and we at Yahoo! believe that if advertisers can do this, then issues like the rules about bulk SMS won’t crop up in the online industry,” he noted.

This is a view shared by Prashant Mehta, CEO, Komli Media, who said, “Collecting data is good and the more information you have, the better content you can provide. However, some people go beyond this and start to get very intrusive, and that’s where the problem lies, but that’s not really happening in India.”

Kiran Gopinath, Founder and CEO, Ozone Media, remarked, “Targetting must be judicious. As an industry, we need to do some studies to see what kind of frequency is good, but I think that seeing the same ad online more than three or four times in a day is too much. Targetting helps not just advertisers, but also the audience, to find deals and products that they will like, but we have to keep to limits and not bother people.”
 

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