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It’s a delicate balance for digital advertisers: trying to personalize to the extent that consumers feel special and want to purchase, but without scaring them away because the targeting has become creepy. And while a global consumer survey [download page] by Accenture Interactive found that 87% of respondents think it’s important to buy from brands that understand “the real me,” 30% report that a brand has become “too personal.”

Of those 30% of respondents who have had a brand tip the balance towards being too personal, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) say they would stop doing business with a brand or reconsider their relationship to a brand that had become too personal.

At the same time, about two-thirds (65%) of respondents say they are willing to share more personal data in return for a better and more customer-focused experience. That said, recent research from the Advertising Research Foundation did find that consumers were actually less likely to part with some types of personal data even when told it would lead to a more personalized experience. Research on this topic has come to conflicting conclusions, possibly as consumers themselves are unsure as to the level of data sharing that they are comfortable with.

So, what advertising techniques breach the barrier between personalized and creepy? The #1 creepiest advertising technique, as cited by 73% of survey respondents, is receiving an ad for something they had talked about near a voice assistant but had never searched for. This lines up with separate research by Selligent Marketing Cloud, where 69% of respondents found it creepy when they were targeted for ads based on something they’d said in conversation without prompting their voice assistant.

Consumers also say that ads that follow them across devices (66%), a chatbot that has access to their past online shopping and not just purchases (66%), ads on social media based on recent shopping visits to another site (66%) and chatbots that have access to their past customer service interactions (64%) are advertising techniques they find to be creepy.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 8,000 consumers from the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France and Spain.

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