NEWS17 December 2009

Online ads target viewers’ ‘thinking style’

News Technology

US— A new type of behavioural targeting could soon tailor online ads not just to topics you’re interested in, but to the way you think.

A team at the MIT Sloan School of Management has developed a system to customise ads according to a viewer’s ‘cognitive style’ by examining the way they navigate a website.

Professor Glen Urban told Research: “What psychology tells us is that you’re effective in communicating if you communicate in the style of the person you’re directing to. Every salesman ever trained knows you’ve got to be on the right wavelength with someone.”

The system developed by Urban and his colleagues analyses the way people use a site to determine their style of thinking, which might be visual or verbal, holistic or analytical. It also seeks to determine the ‘phase’ that the person is at in the process of considering and buying a product.

Examples include a Chevrolet ad which was tailored to focus on either an image of the car, text saying ‘Buy Now’, testimonials from satisfied customers, or information on local buying options.

In an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review earlier this year, the team reported that a study conducted with a large telecom firm showed purchase intent could increase by 20% after ads were tailored to cognitive styles.

Urban said the system will work on an ‘opt in’ basis, but he hopes that people will be keen to take part when they see that the ads they are served are more meaningful and relevant to them.

“Would you rather have a standard banner flashing at you, or something that’s really tuned to the phase you’re in and your cognitive style?” asks Urban. “We’ve found in controlled tests that 55-60 per cent more people clicked on the morphed ads [than the standard ones]. So you’ve got traditional behavioural targeting saying, ‘This person should get an auto ad,’ and we take the next step and say, ‘What style should we communicate with them in?’ There is a benefit here for people.”

A further trial is to begin in January in conjunction with a major US telecoms company and online publishers.


1 Comment

13 years ago

Yawn. Please stop wasting my bandwidth. Noscript, AdBlock....gone.

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