3 Reasons Why Overtargeting Ads Online Are Turning Away Potential Customers

Have you ever felt like an ad follows you around the internet no matter where you go?

You’re not alone!

Marketers have long known that in order to attract a customer’s attention, they must be exposed to the same message multiple times. However, finding the sweet spot has always been a challenge.

Some members of a target audience are just uninterested in what a brand has to offer. In fact, excessive advertising may upset or annoy potential customers to the point where any initial enthusiasm fades.

Today’s online businesses are more at risk of making this error than ever before, thanks to the rise of niche marketing and over targeted advertising.

What is Overtargeting?

Over-targeting occurs when a brand’s ad budget exceeds the campaign’s requirements and the size of its target population. In principle, social media sites like Facebook have built-in precautions to prevent this, but many advertisers frequently ignore them in the hopes of increasing their success. However, they are mistaken.

Over-targeting has a corollary called “oversaturation,” which occurs when one target population is bombarded with adverts from the same brand. As a result, “ad-fatigue” sets in, with consumers becoming frustrated or creeped out, and engagement plummeting.

The pendulum has swung too far to the “digital as overtargeting” side of things in the previous decade, at the price of brand advertising that makes the remaining 99% of potential customers aware of your brand and products (fills the top of the funnel).

This has been sadly witnessed, as customers are assaulted with a barrage of advertisements after they’ve already purchased the goods. However, no matter how many ads you run or how well they are targeted, a consumer will not “purchase 5 quarts of milk when their family can only potentially drink 4 quarts of milk each week.”

Advertisers need to do better than bombard the target market with campaigns. Otherwise, they will face serious repercussions.

A Losing Proposition

Let’s start with the balancing act that every advertiser or platform offering digital marketing services must perform. They must figure out how to accomplish the seemingly impossible: perfect, complete delivery while keeping a spot-on performance. Anyone who has worked with an advertisement team understands how aggravating it can be to try to get a campaign that has been utterly strangled by targeting to deliver on its promises.

And there’s nowhere to turn if/when the campaign’s performance indicators aren’t being reached. Before even a single impression is delivered, the advertiser has done everything they can to optimize their campaign. For both the business owner and the advertiser, it’s a losing proposition.

The owner is wasting time and effort trying to keep the business, while the advertiser is stuck with a dormant campaign that isn’t getting results.

What led to the creation of this faulty model?

It’s a coelacanth, a prehistoric relic that has survived the years despite the fact that everything else has changed. Targeting is essentially the internet equivalent of placing print ads in the local newspaper or buying radio time on a local station that caters to a specific demographic.

Those models failed for a reason. The targeted local model will inevitably collapse as things become more globalized.

The Issue of Oversaturation

Even if the advertiser has identified the ideal consumer pool and is precisely targeting them, they will still face oversaturation. If an advertiser is targeting a group of 20,000 potential buyers, that group will remain pretty stagnant throughout the campaign.

It’s unlikely that a large number of new users will join the location during the campaign if the campaign is location-based. And, if it’s behavioral targeting, the average behavioral targeting cookie lasts roughly six weeks, which is longer than the usual campaign’s duration. Because those consumer pools have low turnover, the same people are seeing the same advertisements over and over again.

As a result, the targeted audience may be “ideal” for the first week or two of the campaign, but they quickly morph into the type of consumers that advertisers would want to avoid.

Choosing a Percentage of a Percentage

Let’s face it: if a business has an internet presence, it is considered a worldwide business. As a result, their information and services are available to anybody with an internet connection. That’s a significant number of people who could be interested in an advertiser’s services.

Instead of using that enormous client base and attempting to get business from as many of them as possible, advertisers are choosing for a percentage of a percentage — they’re attempting to capture the mythical “highly qualified user” while disregarding the rest of the audience.

What happens to those who live just beyond the advertiser’s designated location but are close enough to benefit from it? What about the non-typical potential customers, outliers, or anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into a targeting box? Or those who are tech-savvy enough to regularly clear their cookies?

The majority of the valuable, highly educated, high-income audience will know how to use a computer at a basic level. You cut them all out with only one basic target.


A golden law of Internet marketing is that you must deliver something of value in exchange for customer trust. Advertisements will have a limited impact unless they are backed up by a strong online presence. Fixing the issue at the top will have a cascading effect all the way down.

All advertisers, companies offering digital marketing services, and business owners stand to earn handsomely if we embrace its global character, data availability, and ability to adapt to an ever-changing audience. And this can only be beneficial to the entire industry.