New research proposes that mobile ads can be targeted according to social media users’ likes

According to new research led by Sandra Matz from the Columbia Business School, modifying adverts to psychological traits based on social media likes is effective in driving purchases and clicks.

The study with participation from researchers of Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge targeted over 3.7 million people in the UK with adverts promoting beauty products, a crossword app as well as a shooter game, tailored to traits such as a person’s extroversion and introversion. These traits were assigned depending on a single like of a social media user.

The results show a 40% increase in clicks and 50% more purchases or app installs for people who were targeted this way compared to demographic targeting.

Although the initial results are interesting, the study was biased towards gender with predominantly women targeted and was only tested in the UK population.

In addition, the effectiveness of predicting psychological profiles accurately from likes would require a more extensive analysis of user profile activities and likes.

Though the concept of the study is interesting, further research is required to fully explore trait-based targeting according to users’ digital footprints.