NEW YORK: Consumers who feel overwhelmed by ads and offers need to share more information about their preferences with advertisers, according to a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.

Anindya Ghose told Ad Exchanger that the reason brands send people so many ads is because they don't have enough information about consumer preferences and a lot of what they do have exists in silos.

"Someone has to come and stitch the consumer profile together," he explained.

And when the advertising ecosystem gets more information from consumers and advertisers can better create those profiles, "companies will reduce the frequency of ads and offers, and increase relevancy," Ghose said.

"That will be a happier ecosystem. Consumers will get fewer ads, and companies will get a better bang for their buck because the effectiveness of ads increases."

One simple way that advertisers can become more relevant is by analysing people's routines – humans are generally creatures of habit. "If marketers can figure out our usual patterns of walking, shopping, dining and eating out, they can use that to send us relevant messages."

Ghose argued that consumers should not be scared about the implications of marketers joining up a series of digital dots.

"In the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of sins and vices we worry about are irrelevant for the marketing world," he maintained. "There is little reason for the company to use that information to embarrass people. One embarrassed customer is one lost customer.

"What we should care more about is this adversarial world of hackers," he stated.

Ghose added that many people failed to appreciate the distinction between corporate data privacy and government data privacy.

"When the NSA snoops on underwater sea cables and plucks out data from Google and Facebook, that worries me," he said. "I don't know what they're going to do with it, and I don't want them to misclassify me."

Data sourced from Ad Exchanger; additional content by WARC staff