If you’ve ever Googled something off hand and suddenly seen adverts for the same thing on Facebook, or noticed your Amazon searches influencing your recommendations, you’ve seen personalisation in action. The tracking of ‘cookies’ – tiny data files that log the websites you visit – is big business for marketers.
The worlds of personalised ads and programmatic see companies doing constant battle to earmark the perfect customer, and find them the perfect product. Companies are convinced that by distilling down the essence of someone’s browsing and shopping habits, they can appeal to them on a completely different level than picking a broad age or gender demographic.
But is this really true? To twist an old maxim, do people actually want what they know? Or is it advertising’s role to curate, tease and suggest products that the viewer might not ordinarily buy?