1 min.
Your targeted ads can impact users' self-perception
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Your targeted ads can impact users' self-perception


An article from the Harvard Business Review makes an interesting observation following a series of studies: an Internet user knowing that an advertisement is targeted due to his behavior on the Internet will redefine himself according to what is presented to him.  

“We exposed students to an ad that they believed to be either behaviorally targeted or non-targeted for a high-end watch brand. Then we asked them to rate how sophisticated they perceived themselves to be. The data show that participants evaluated themselves as more sophisticated after receiving an ad that they thought was individually targeted to them, compared to when they thought the same ad was not targeted.”

Two elements must be present for the message to change the user's self-perception:

  • User needs to know they are being targeted
  • The offer must be plausible for the user


We see great opportunities in this, but let's start with the ethical side. We play here with the perception that people have of themselves. Facebook had caused quite a stir with a controversial study where they edited the News Feed of half a million people to see if adding news labeled as negative would impact user emotions and shares.  

Social networks, search engines, advertisers and retargeting tools in general all need to be careful about the identity feedback created by their algorithm or way of doing things. We can for example think of the effects of the algorithms of dating sites which propose candidates “according to your profile”. Taken to the extreme, with identity feedback, we could let an algorithm redefine what kind of person we like.


Based on these studies, creatives have a new tool to create campaigns. These will not only be able to convey their message, but also orient the perceptions of certain users so that they associate themselves with the message. A good way to create ambassadors!

It is still necessary to be able to target a relevant audience AND to explicitly mention to them that this advertising is targeted. Users may still be hesitant about being told: “we follow you, we know a lot about you”. It is therefore a risky operation to perform in certain contexts only.

Philippe Giroux, Social Media Team Leader at Adviso believes that there would be opportunities arising from this strategy, especially for retargeting.

According to him, from a creative angle, this new perspective becomes all the more interesting when it is associated more particularly with retargeting: we move away (finally!) from the performance angle linked to this practice to bring a more human dimension. For advertisers, this would therefore be an opportunity to recall the values ​​of their organization and associate them with the retargeted consumer in order to stimulate the final act of purchase, even towards the very end of the sales funnel. conversion (as long as the targeting is relevant, as mentioned). In an ideal case, this would therefore reinforce the authenticity of the brand at a critical stage in the consumer's journey.  

Is this the end of “ Free Shipping ”, “ For a limited time only ” and company? Definitely not, but this is definitely a breath of fresh air for our retargeting banner briefs and a (potential) relief for several creative teams!