What is ad personalization? Ad personalization results from data gathered from customer behaviors, interests, and demographics to create personalized ads tailored to those unique values.  

The goal is to personalize ads and create a more personable and friendly experience for consumers, making them feel seen and connected to your brand. Ad personalization is adaptable and can be utilized across various marketing channels.

However, because they’re personalized and based on online behaviors, they can quickly turn from convenient to overbearing. They can often be perceived as a negative interaction between the consumer and your brand. Personally, I love seeing content that’s relevant to me—especially when this can lead to discoveries of new brands!

But it’s important to remember that not everyone feels this way. So, how can we ensure that we don’t cross that line? Let’s discuss some best practices when working with ad personalization. 

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is a recurring theme in marketing best practices and is no exception for ad personalization. But really, what’s the best way to get to know your customers when trying to implement ad personalization?

When it comes to personalized advertising, understanding your customers through segmentation practices, creating buyer personas, and analyzing behavioral trends (e.g., purchase behaviors, preferences, etc.) will result in more compelling content that resonates with your audience.

Some key data points you may consider capturing:

  • Demographics
  • Consumer Habits
  • Preferences

It’s essential to understand why your customers prefer what they prefer—and continue to cultivate this relationship. 

Remember To Put It To The Test!

 But wait—you have the data—now what? Test it! Conduct A/B testing and continue to review your data to see what worked.  Not only is it essential to test your data, but you should also review it for trends—what did your customers respond to?  What did they ignore? Based on their behaviors, how can we make this a better experience? 

Now, let’s take a look at a real-life example:


Nike uses customer engagement data to create highly personalized ads that match individual preferences. They collect detailed data points from various sources, including your purchasing history, online searches, and interactions with their mobile app.

The data collection goes beyond knowing your shoe size. Nike understands your sports preferences, workout routines, and style choices. For example, if you browse for running gear and buy running shoes, Nike shows you ads with the latest styles, tips for runners, and upcoming races.

Nike also uses geolocation data to tailor its ads. If you live in a city with avid runners, you may see running ads for local running events or exclusive store events. They also track the time of your day you’re most active online to ensure your ads reach you at the best times.

These personalized ads appear in various formats, on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, search engines like Google, and even through email marketing campaigns. Using such detailed and personalized data, Nike ensures its relevant ads enhance your brand experience. This level of personalization sets Nike apart, as they create shopping experiences uniquely tailored to you, making you feel understood and valued.

Customer Journey 

Understanding your customers’ online behaviors and preferences has a great benefit: We can utilize it across different marketing channels to help create a dynamic and interactive customer journey. 

The data found can help pinpoint where a user is in their customer journey, which in turn helps contribute to the kind of content sent to that customer and the marketing channel by which this messaging is sent.  

Consumers are becoming increasingly informed about what brands they decide to invest in. It’s no longer so much about the products provided; the focus has instead been turned to the brand itself—do they connect with the brand, and does it meet their expectations in customer service? Targeted ads are increasingly utilizing personalization to connect and answer these questions. 

Let’s look at some examples:


 Spotify is a digital music, podcast, and video service platform that does a great job leveraging its platform to listen and understand when customers would be more inclined to hear an ad. 

They break up their customer data into segments and behaviors, or “moments,” that highlight times of days and behaviors associated with that time frame to decide when would be a good time to highlight brands. 


Amazon takes personalized ads to the next level with on-site and off-site ads. By utilizing on-site ads,  Amazon provides visibility and exposure to products/brands that users may otherwise not have had exposure to.  

Through the usage of Sponsored Product Ads, Sponsored Brand Ads, and Sponsored Display Ads—brands can utilize Amazon’s user data to reach users as personalized product recommendation ads based on user behavior and browsing history gathered by Amazon. 

These ads are typically seen on your Amazon results page, at the bottom of the product pages you visualize,  and on the sides if you purchased their Sponsored Display Ads.

Ad Personalization: Amazon
Screenshot: Amazon’s website

Amazon’s off-site ads work similarly to placement ads, which are set on third-party platforms with product details, such as ratings, availability, etc.

However, Amazon plans to utilize the user data collected to help make these ads more personalized by pinpointing what ads are more relevant to users’ searches within these third-party web pages. In this way, Amazon’s off-site ads can be displayed within Pinterest searches, for example, based on what users’ searches warrant.

Respect Privacy

As mentioned earlier, while creating ads personalized to specific customers based on their behaviors and interests can be received positively, it can also be seen as an invasion of privacy.  

It’s important to talk to your audience. Let them know you’re using their data and allow them to opt out. Just because we can collect the data doesn’t mean we should. Stay away from sensitive information, such as health conditions, sexual orientation, etc. 

Remember that individuals are becoming increasingly weary of data collection. People want control over their information, and as marketers, we should do our best to protect that data and build trust with our customers. 

Here are a few steps you can take to protect your customer’s data:

  • Restricting access to who accesses the customer data
  • Limiting the  kind of data we collect (ie. no sensitive information), 
  • Conducting regular security audits
  • Using password management tools

If you’re curious, read this for more information on protecting your social media data. 

Take Away

Personalized ads are a great way to set your brand apart from the competition and an excellent means to connect with and understand the new-age consumer by providing relevant and meaningful content to our audience. 

Of course, it is always important to be mindful of the kind of data we collect and how we utilize it. Our responsibility is to do our best for our customers, including taking precautionary measures when collecting data. 

For more deep dives like this, schedule a call with our team! We’d love to hear from you!