Crazy Or Not, Behavioral Targeting May Be Here to Stay
As one who helps create the content sold (or at least read) in this publication and elsewhere, I certainly appreciate the notion that the value of the content, and the value of the audience that is drawn to that content, deserves top billing. However, the reality is--whether publishers or media buyers like it or not--online advertising and the actions driven by that advertising can be measured in a way that traditional media never could. Indeed, in order to compete with print, TV and the like, online publishers have had to demonstrate ROI by way of click-through, customer acquisition, and other metrics. To coax advertisers to test the Web waters, online publishers had no choice but to go further than merely touting numbers of readers or audience demographics, and they had the technology to do it.
As traditional media continue to morph with their younger and yet-to-be interactive siblings, there's little doubt that advertisers will begin to demand even more proof of audience action, and will no longer be satisfied only with knowing that they have access to an audience. The fact that the U.S. House is now backing the Senate's measure to require television broadcasters to switch to all-digital transmissions by 2009 is a harbinger of more advertiser demand for such proof, not less. After all, the TV folks will have little excuse not to prove performance in some manner once we all go digital.
Despite these market forces that may lead publishers to focus on ad performance, Rosenberg suggests that publishers enhance and substantiate their media value by "decreasing the number of advertisers on their pages to one, offering simultaneous serving of ads so advertisers can use multiple units to creatively deliver their message, and selling roadblocks so advertisers can own readers' attention exclusively..."
The thing is, some advertisers aim to reach a very select audience: in-market car buyers, well-heeled investors, business travelers, etc. Because these people spend a limited amount of time viewing content that advertisers deem contextually relevant, publishers have a finite amount of contextually relevant pages to offer those advertisers. This has left some advertisers wanting more access to those select audiences than contextual or demographic targeting alone can enable.
Enter BT. By capturing data from user interactions with contextually relevant media, publishers--and more recently ad networks--allow advertisers to reach those same valuable users, just elsewhere. While buying and targeting media in such a way might not satisfy purists, it may be one of the necessary approaches to maneuvering the evolving media machine.
Have something to say about behavioral targeting? If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming Q&A edition of Behavioral Insider, contact Kate Kaye via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.