Behavioral Targeting Across Ad Networks and On Your Site

Back from a delicious, delicious lunch and it’s time to talk behavioral targeting. Please welcome our speaker Anil Batra (ZeroDash1). Yey! Our moderator says there’s a one cookie fee for anyone whose cell phone goes off during the session. Yes. If your phone goes off, you have to give me a cookie. Lisa likes that idea.

Hee, just as she finishes saying that Anil’s cell phone starts vibrating loudly. He owes everyone a cookie!

The behavioral targeting field is growing and changing every day. Anil says that with multivariate testing you’re considering all users to be the same. It’s the all men are created equal approach. What if you’re able to segment? Then you can decide which ads to show and which will convert better. That’s behavioral targeting.

What is behavioral targeting? It’s the ability to serve relevant content/products/advertisements to users based on their past actions. Users are usually placed in one or more segments and then content/products/advertisements relevant to those segments are served. When you come to the site, it understands who you are based on your behavior.

How does it work? A user navigates to a Web site and requests a page. When the user comes, the request goes to the Web server. The Web server makes a call which evaluates the user’s cookie. Based on that segmentation scheme, the cookie is then placed into the appropriate bucket and served relevant content.

Behavior is determined by pages/content viewed, the number of visits, entry pages, the path taken, products viewed, frequency of page views, conversions, internal search keywords, the referring site and the referring keywords.

You can enhance your behavioral data with non behavioral data like geographic location, IP, language, connection speed, domain, data/time, home/business. Demographic information can be used, as well. Stuff like gender, age, location, income, likes/dislikes, hobbies, and the list goes on. Be careful with user-inputted data because people lie. Anil tells everyone he’s a CEO because he wants the magazines they give to CEOs. Heh.

Once you understand the user, you can target online media (banner ads), in-house ads, site images, site content, landing pages, email to them.

Why use behavioral targeting? The broadcast approach (traditional targeting) treats everyone the same. Behavioral targeting delivers a personalized message. They know who you are and what you want. You develop a unique relationship and then you can leverage it. Behavioral targeting delivers consistent, relevant messages to the user on any site on the Internet. You can measure and optimize multiple segment marketing goals simultaneously. Find the right message for each users segment.

On-Site Behavioral Targeting

Personalized site content for each user based on the market segment. If a user enters from your home page, clicks on the mortgage section and visits a few pages in that section, you know that person is interested in mortgages. You know what products they looked at in the funnel. Why not show them mortgage ads?

What tools/vendors are available? Optimost, Omniture, Kefta, Certona.

Network Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral Ad Networks: Online media inventory targeted to users who fall into specific market segments. Users are tracked and targeted where they go on the sites participating in the behavioral ad network.

Show ads to people, not pages. Behavioral targeting is relevant to the person. Tailor messages based on where customers are in the funnel. You know where they are based on what they’ve done. Keywords also tell you their intent. If someone searches for [ipod], they’re looking for information. If they add a price, they’re looking to buy. Mobile devices have ad targeting coming.

How do behavioral targeting networks work? Data is collected by Behavioral targeting networks across the sites participating in the network. User is put in segments based on their behavior. User is followed with a relevant ad anywhere he/she goes on that network.

If you went to Dell and configured a computer, when you go to a participating site, they’ll show an ad for Dell and charge Dell double the price. They know you have a vested interest and are more likely to click through. The ad makes more sense.

Companies doing BT: ValueClick, RevenueScience, Tacoda, Blue Lithium.

Amazon can target ads on other sites based on what you do on The JavaScript calls the same cookie and the same server. Amazon can track you all over the Internet. Heh. [I hate that so much, personally. –Susan]

The Process for Behavioral Targeting

  • Define your goals: Consider your business and what it wants to accomplish, learn or measure.
  • Define customer segments: Who are you going to target? Start small.
  • Understand success: What does success look like? What are the conversion funnels? Have a baseline to measure against.
  • Select the tool and vendor: Examine your current business goals and identify what site analytics tools are currently in place and see what kind of resources are available for implementation and maintenance. Consider what kind of reporting will be required and how often.
  • Continuously improve: Analyze improvements from using BT for continuous improvement in your business and optimize tool for A/B testing and MT.

Networks do not reach everyone. Behavioral targeting is often served on remnant pages, which pages that people don’t see.

There are lots of privacy issues with behavioral targeting. Most networks use only non-PI data. There are no guidelines. There are no final standards. Make sure you include BT information in your site privacy policy. You have to tell people how you’re going to use their data. Most times you’re automatically opted in to behavioral targeting. You can opt out, but most users don’t know that or how to do it.

It’s an issue because people (like DoubleClick) have misused data in the past, there’s a lack of consumer information and it raises issues regarding who owns the data.

71 percent of online consumers are away that their browsing information may be collected by a third party for ad purposes. Only 40 percent are familiar with the term behavioral targeting.

57 percent of responds say they are not comfortable with advertisers using that browsing history to serve relevant ads, even when that info cannot be tied to their names or any other personal information.

Easing Privacy Concerns

  • Build trust with your customers.
  • Educate them on what BT is and how you collect the data and use it.
  • Provide them with a compelling reason to allow you to collect their data.
  • Build an opt-in model allowing users to control what data they want you to use.
  • Give users an easy way to opt-out.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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