Targeting Consumers Anywhere They Consume Media

AudienceScience and Hulu inked a deal last week that could eventually move from the computer screen in the home office to the living room TV. The agreement tests the behavioral targeting technology on Hulu's pure-play video ads.

Theoretically, AudienceScience's BT technology could support any digital device with a cookie-based browser. Execs at electronics companies, such as Philips Semiconductors subsidiaries, have been talking about this for years. "We're not doing it now, but we are looking at it because targeting advertising to consumer anywhere they consume media is the future," says Jeff Hirsch, president and CEO of AudienceScience.

The set-top box would need the ability to carry a cookie, he says. Behavioral targeting on mobile devices works because browsers are now capable of carrying cookies. AudienceScience's technology could live on any digital device, including an electronic billboard, as long as the device supports cookies. Companies in Japan are testing BT on GPS devices in cars, Hirsch says.

As part of an effort to support the massive amounts of data coming in from the little tags, AudienceScience has built the capability to pull and store more than two billion behavioral events each day. The system stores the data for 90 days before purging it. "We have about 200 billion behavioral events to look at every day," Hirsch says. "So, when we have advertisers searching for people that have researched and want specific things, we have massive amounts of information to create target segments, all with non-personally identifiable information."

Segmenting the BT data is similar to segmenting data on search engines. The engines index the words on the page, so when you search for something on Google, for example, that's when the technology determines what to serve up.

AudienceScience's technology works similarly. It indexes and processes the user's intent and delivers the ads on the fly. Since 2003, AudienceScience has served up more than 50,000 ad campaigns based on behavioral targeting.

Pricing for behavioral targeting keywords would work similar to bidding for search terms and words. "It's possible, but you would need a lot of liquidity in the market place," Hirsch says.

AudienceScience works with 75 publishers in 14 countries. Hulu's new relationship with AudienceScience lets Hulu collect data from its own site, as well as use additional data the BT company provides from other sources to enhance targeting.

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3 comments about "Targeting Consumers Anywhere They Consume Media ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , July 22, 2009 at 12:17 p.m.

    Creep factor.

  2. Carolyn Hansen from Hacker Group , July 22, 2009 at 2:57 p.m.

    I'm wondering if it matters who (as in, who in the household) is watching the TV, on the computer or driving the car. Mobile devices are individual -- but the others are likely to be more communal. I think it might be a little clunky if I see the electronic billboards aimed at my husband when I happen to be driving his car. But the idea of more relevant advertising is certainly appealing.

  3. Vox Appeal from VoxAppeal.com , August 5, 2009 at 4:07 a.m.

    To what extent are the concepts "non-personally identifiable information" and "purged" defined, enshrined in law, and guaranteed?

    Several separately-acquired sets of data can be correlated to do a lot more than merely identify. The present necessity for effective filtering may be primarily for advertising targeting purposes, but as filters evolve, this is going to go a long way, from BT to DNAT.

    Then again, maybe that's what we all want?