Omnicom Readies Behavioral Targeting Services Suite

by Jun 24, 2009, 5:30 PM
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Omnicom Media Group (OMG) will offer clients "advanced targeting" similar to the rich media and video display targeting services Interpublic Group's Mediabrands unveiled with Cadreon earlier this month, according to OMG Digital CEO Matt Spiegel. WPP (B3), Publics Groupe, and Havas all have similar offerings.

OMG's suite of services will give clients a "better understanding" of how to reach consumers through behavioral targeting, says Spiegel. Tight-lipped on specifics for now, he will say that the strategy entails building out services and a technology platform. The plan has been in the works for months.

One impetus has been discussions on how to take advantage of the opportunities open trading platforms provide. It's all about improving clients' media investments. That means advertisers will start buying human characteristics across the Internet, rather than geographic and demographic profiles within a site or ad network.

Some trends forcing this move include the need to make "display advertising more accountable, while adding transparency into the process," Spiegel says. "Clients know an audience exists, but questions continue around finding the correct balance between ads, sponsorships and campaigns in social networks."

Spiegel says marketers still don't know how to best take advantage of the social media platform, but they do know it's more about finding a new way to communicate, such as targeting consumers with custom messages.

Although companies insist they will not use personal identifiable information, it's been suggested by many marketers that data available in profiles on social media can assist in targeting ads. Spiegel believes these networks will become a good source of data for behavioral targeting.

Evidently Facebook does too. The company's Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly recently spoke in front of two House subcommittees on privacy issues related to Facebook's advertising platform. Kelly made a point to tell the committees that Facebook's ad targeting program is different from behavioral targeting.

It appears that Facebook is preparing for possible legislation that may be a result of Congress' continuing inquiry into behavioral targeting. Washington Post staff writer Kim Hart reports that Facebook hired a lobbyist to represent the company on issues related to privacy.

Lobbyist Timothy Sparapani, the former senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, has argued against large Internet companies owning private data. It was reported that the self-described "privacy zealot" didn't join Facebook until seven months ago because he felt uneasy about revealing personal information.

As for OMG, Spiegel says the agency wants the data to understand consumer behavior, not just in social networks, but across the Internet -- which in turn, will help the agency make better targeting decisions for clients.

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