Behaviorally Targeted Ads As Implied Social Labels Article Analysis Essay

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The objective of this study is to review an article titled “An Audience of One: Behaviorally Targeted Ads as Implied Social Labels”  (Summers, et al. 2016 p 156). The authors argue that firms have relied on targeting to communicate effectively with a group of consumers. Targeting is the segmentation that involves selection from a smaller group of people based on defined variables.  A common type of segmentation variables that firms use includes demographic variables using the gender and ethnicity as well as psychographic variables that include lifestyle, personality and values.  However, an advanced in technology, and widespread of the internet has made a new form of targeting emerging. A behavioral targeting is referred as an internet-based marketing strategy using different elements that include browsing history and consumer purchase to assist in determining the type of adverts design and display. Typically, consumers are presented the digital adverts to reflect the marketing preferences based on their previous behaviors. For example, the algorithms may be developed to identify consumer who likes to make an online purchasing of energy-saving bulbs. Since this practice is common in the online marketing environment,  the authors investigate the difference between method consumer response to traditional types of targeting, and behaviorally targeted advertisements.

Literature Review

Tucker,  (2014) argues that the internet has revolutionized the way advertisers employ in designing their campaign. With the strategy used in collecting consumer data using the website platform, the advertisers are able to design the adverts that will be tailored to consumers’ preferences.  For example, the online clicks can be used to collect the information about the particular products that consumers prefer. Unlike the traditional method of advert that does not have the same advantages, in  this scenario,  firms are able to have  “ huge amounts of data at their disposal to improve advertising outcomes, but who also seek to minimize the potential of consumer resistance.” (Tucker,  2014 p 1). The data collected from consumers will assist advertiser to design the online adverts more appealing. Despite the benefits that can be derived from online adverts, the advertisers still face the risks of intruding in the privacy of consumers. At presents, increasing number of sophisticated consumers are wary of submitting their private information on the internet. The author suggests that advertisers are required to make consumers understand that their information is safe and will not be misused.

Yan, et al. (2009) contribute to the argument by pointing out that advertisers take advantages of behavioral targeting to collect large volume of consumer information. Using the strategy, the advertisers are able to top design the adverts that will match consumers’ preferences. Yan, et al. (2009)  identify the  CTR(Click-Through Rate) as a technique  that advertisers employ to collect consumer information, which assists them to “properly segmenting users for behaviorally targeted advertising in a sponsored search.” (Yan, et al. 2009 p 261). Thus, the authors establish that behavioral targeting assists advertisers in designing effective online advertising. Moreover, the authors reveal behavioral targeting help advertisers to use evaluation metrics to analyze the effectiveness of their adverts.  More importantly, the behavioral targeting works better than others form of online or traditional ads delivery.

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Theoretical development

The authors develop different theoretical frameworks related to behavioral advertising by arguing that behavioral segmented adverts are different from the traditional advertisement based on the psychographic and demographic variables. The behavioral ads use the Web page to customize an appeal for each user who visits the site. However, the advert method is different from the traditional mode of adverts presented to everyone no matter their demographic variables. Moreover, the behaviorally targeted ads are designed differently from another type of adverts because firms are able to collect information about consumers since customer data are stored in the hard drives (cookies). For example, firms are able to collect information about customers’ clicking patterns, purchase histories, and web searches. Increasing number of firms are also using the software to identify people’s psychographic traits such as personality, values, and social identities.

Additionally, firms use the social labels to develop consumer explicit characterizations based on their personality, beliefs and behavior. Based on self-perception theory that reveals how people demonstrate certain behaviors based on their traits, the authors argue that implied social label can be used to develop the consumer identity to design behavioral consumer adverts.  However, Summers, et al. (2016) point out there is still short of research that clarifies the distinctions and commonalities between social labeling and identity priming.  

²Despite the method the author employ developing the theory, the theory is not well presented in the article. Instead of revealing how the theories are linked to the research objectives, the authors discuss the concepts of online adverts. The concepts that are discussed elaborately include behaviorally targeted advertising, self-perceptions,  social labels, behavior and identity. Instead of developing the theory, and using the theory to develop the hypothesis, the authors develops the hypothesis from different concepts to enhance a greater understanding of the behaviorally targeted advertisement. While the authors cited important literature, however, the authors do not link the literature to the theory. All the literature reviewed are linked to the concepts.

Despite the shortcomings identified in the articles, the hypotheses are still well generated. The hypothesis developed are from different behavioral marketing concepts, and  the hypotheses developed are as  follows:



 “Behaviorally targeted advertisements can act as implied social labels, resulting in adjustments to self-perceptions and behavior consistent with the label”. (Summers, et al. 2016 p 159).


“Changes in consumer behavior in response to behaviorally targeted ads are mediated by the recognition that the ad implies information about the consumer based on his or her past behavior and the subsequent self-perception adjustments that result as a function of recognizing this implied label”.(Summers, et al. 2016 p 159).

Summer et at  (2016) also investigates the impact of accuracy the of….....

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Summers, C. A., Smith, R. W., & Reczek, R. W. (2016). An Audience of One: Behaviorally Targeted Ads as Implied Social Labels. Journal of Consumer Research, 43(1), 156-178. doi:10.1093/jcr/ucw012

Tucker, C. (2014), Social Networks, Personalized Advertising and Privacy Controls,” Journal of Marketing Research, 51 (October), 546–62.

Yan, J. Ning, L. Gang, W. et al. (2009). How Much Can Behavioural Targeting Help Online Advertising?” Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on World Wide Web, Association for Computing Machinery, 261-70.

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