The big question for online advertisers: To personalize or not to personalize?

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Catherine Tucker

We use the Internet to research things all the time. Whether it’s a big purchase like a vacation or something smaller like a pair of running shoes, we often begin with a search for the topic online, eventually drilling down to find specific product reviews and details. But what happens when the pattern of websites we visit triggers personalized online ads that follow us around the Internet? If you’re later reading an unrelated article on a news site, will you really pay more attention to an ad for the specific hotel or pair of shoes you were looking at earlier?

The answer is: probably not. It turns out that when people are at the early stages of researching on the Internet — and haven’t likely developed strong product preferences — they respond better to generalized messages intended for a mass audience. Ads that are too specific aren’t going to convert

Read More »