• Jill Marber

Do Algorithms Generate Mistrust?

We’ve all been searching on Facebook, seen an ad pop up, and wonder, “how did they know I was interested in that?” More than ever, social media giants and advertisers are relying on algorithms to target their customers and promote their brands.

However, after years of using these equations people are growing weary of them.

Customers are wanting more authentic and personal experiences with companies, and there is nothing less personal than a computer equation. While they may be able to predict behavior and buying patterns, they rarely take into account the customer’s point of view, their feelings, and their emotions.

Algorithms use a wide variety of information to make assessments about the target. It may seem logical on the outside, but they are also known to make mistakes.

Customers are usually comfortable knowing there is a computer program gathering demographics, previous behavior, and preferences, but are less likely to condone using information that hasn’t been given by choice. Privacy is a growing concern in the digital age, and violating privacy is breaking trust. An advertisement that is too customized immediately seems suspicious and is very risky. The use of their information pitted against another customer created further distrust if it becomes apparent one buyer is paying less for an item, or a product was not offered to them while available to someone else.

While these equations can be helpful for utilize customer-specific knowledge like narrowing down who your target audience is and giving you an idea of what may appeal to them, predictive analytics and data-visualization tools should be used along with human interactions and input to truly make a connection. Algorithms can use only a handful of factors. It doesn’t take into account mood, environment, physical condition, and more. All of these variables have an impact on purchasing behavior and can change on a moment’s notice.

Depending on algorithms and analytics alone also makes the marketer seem lazy. Instead of taking the time to really determine a target market, the business just pushed a few buttons and thinks they know the buyers well. They have no idea what motivates their target audience and what turns them off, and this complacency will not only waste resources, but turn-off potential clients.

In any business, you are asking the buyer to trust you. How do you build that trust? Through showing that you care and that you don’t view your customer as just another number.