If you talk to most marketers about personalised advertising you'll probably hear them talk about gaining insight into the interests of the browser and serving ads based upon those interests. It's the sort of thing Google Adwords has done very well, with the various social networks attempting similar advertising as well.
However that may be going about things in entirely the wrong way. That's the claim made by some Stanford research that suggests our digital image holds the key to success with online advertising.
The research focuses on self endorsement. This suggests that if we see ourselves using a product then we are much more inclined to buy it, because we believe we've already endorsed it, therefore it must be good.
The researchers created four adverts for a fictional soft drink brand, half of which were traditional ads, the other two containing photos of humans apparently endorsing the product.
The research found that if people found their own photo in the advert they were more likely to:
a) think highly of that brand
b) buy that product
They found that the positive effect of the photo was even greater than a textual recommendation that was written from you in the ad.
All of which makes it especially interesting that LinkedIn have started to use this kind of approach by including your profile photo in job adverts on the site. Such an approach to advertising was popularised in the scifi movie Minority Report, and if this research is to be believed you should do your best to make that vision of the future your reality, at least if you want your ads to be effective as possible.