Home The Big Story The Big Story: Personalization Put-Offs

The Big Story: Personalization Put-Offs


Just because you can personalize ads doesn’t mean you should.

When you know the inner workings of ad tech, you appreciate the ways personalization can hit the wrong note. A creative message like “Hey, Sarah” feels right as an email greeting, for example, and oh so wrong when placed in a display ad.

In the first example, I’ve already given my email to a company, which means it can do “active” personalization based on information I’ve freely supplied. The second type of personalization likely came from “passive” personalization, when information is used without a clear opt-in. Passive personalization has a place, but overtly identifying someone crosses a line.

Now that marketers can use generative AI and black-box AI models to deliver thousands of personalized messages to different personas, there will be new ways for marketers to get personalization wrong and new opportunities to get it right.

And here’s another novel idea: now doing personalization at all. AdExchanger Senior Editor Hana Yoo dove into personalization, and from her interviews she came away with a mixed view. Ultimately, instead of personalizing ads based on someone’s browsing history, the best approach might be to show them something they didn’t know they wanted.

Programmatic in flux

Associate Editor Anthony Vargas is tracking two big shifts in the programmatic marketplace.

First, marketers are becoming more selective about the open web. They are removing lower-quality inventory from their campaigns, and, to continue audience targeting, they are exploring curated audiences, which use data matching to improve fidelity over a purely third-party cookie approach. Index Exchange became the latest company to go in this direction.

Plus, Privacy Sandbox testing is in full swing. Anthony spoke with publishers and SSPs who are dipping their toes into the first phase, now that 1% of Chrome traffic is cookieless. The good news? Chrome’s cookieless traffic outperforms Safari’s cookieless traffic. The bad news? It’s still down. And opinions are split on whether that gap will widen or narrow as testing progresses this year.

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