barthel asked: So is there evidence that micro-targeting is especially effective, or does it just make so much intuitive sense that it's become an instigator of passion?
I want to do some posts on this, I need to corral the evidence. There are good theoretical reasons to believe it might or might not work, and also a suspicion that it might be one of those things which is always about to start working.
A lot of the answer depends on the answer to “Why do you think normal advertising works?” (assuming you do) (people who don’t think it works might well think targeting does, though). If you think advertising is essentially persuasive, and believe in things like a path to purchase or a decision journey, targeting is a no brainer. If you think advertising is essentially emotional, well, most targeted ads suck at that. If you think advertising works best as a social object, you might think a different kind of targeted stuff works. If you think social media has fundamentally changed how we make decisions forever, then you believe in targeting but that’s almost certainly the least of your problems.
There’s also the issue that targeting - like influencer theory - is going to have hard limits on its effectiveness (this is something Hautepop pointed out when I was discussing this on Twitter with her). Targeting, like any advertising, can’t magically produce MORE disposable income or MORE attention, it can only divert income or attention. And it’s at heart a pretty mechanical process - you plug in x data into the algorithm and get out y ‘relevant timely’ info. So once it starts working for someone, it ought to start working for an awful lot of people. At which point the competitive advantage you get from good targeting starts eroding quickly. (Forgive me if my theory is way off on this, I’m not an economist). It seems to me that we’re in the targeting peak at the moment, where maybe it’s working for a few people, but in that case the only way is probably down.
The nightmare scenario might be that targeting IS super effective, and that only the companies with colossal data resources can tap it effectively, so you get the consumer marketing equivalent of High Frequency Trading and people without the resources to target get screwed. (The people with the resources find themselves with no control over their own algorithms, but they make a lot of money.) But I don’t think targeting IS that effective, so no need to worry.