24/7: Behavioral Targeting Yields Inconsistent Results
The study, the second in a quarterly series by 24/7 Real Media, found that marketers achieve varying results with content-based behavioral targeting--that is, serving ads to online users based on their Web surfing behavior.
24/7 Real Media based its report on hundreds of behaviorally targeted campaigns run during the first quarter of this year across hundred of sites, said Jack Smith, vice president, product strategy at 24/7 Real Media. The vast majority--91 percent--of impressions appeared on run-of-network inventory, while 7 percent ran on tier 2 inventory and 2 percent were on premium pages.
Overall, the report concluded, advertisers saw higher click-through rates, but not consistently so. "There are no hard and fast rules that we could draw," Smith said. "It depends on who you're targeting and how well you know that audience."
One example of a behavioral targeting initiative that didn't pan out involved a fourth-quarter effort to serve ads to Web users categorized as potential DSL subscribers based on their visits to tech sites. Results would have been better, concluded the report, had the ads been limited to consumers who were connecting via dial-up.
But, in other situations, content-based behavioral targeting lowers advertisers' acquisition costs while increasing the value of publishers' inventory, according to the report. On average, the report concluded, publishers increased the value of their inventory by 22 percent by using behavioral targeting.
Advertisers also saw higher click-through rates, but results varied depending on category and other factors, including the ads' context. For example, ads served to consumers classified as "techies" saw higher click-throughs on sites related to news and technology than on entertainment sites.