Behavioral Focus: Target Behaviorally, Think Globally

While the buzz surrounding behavioral targeting (BT) has been well documented in the United States, has the concept caught on in the rest of world? At Accipiter, we've started to see increased interest in BT from customers outside the U.S., and research shows that we are not alone.

What's driving this global interest? Are the perceptions of and hopes for BT the same for advertisers in other parts of the world? To better understand the factors behind global curiosity about BT, Accipiter surveyed publishers outside the U.S.

As Internet usage grows and publishers experience greater site usage and loyalty, they're looking to maximize the return on advertising assets through the delivery of relevant consumer advertising. And advertisers become more committed to growing their online presence by identifying and targeting appropriate users.

Publishers are looking to leverage new technologies, create new inventory, and drive higher cost per thousands. Our research shows that leading global Web properties share a desire to create more value for advertisers and relevance for consumers. Leading Internet portals in Europe, New Zealand, and Japan have made initial investments in BT technology and are currently running trials. They hope to increase the value of their existing ad inventory, create better response rates for advertisers, and deliver more relevant ads for consumers.

Global properties also say that the benefits of BT must be balanced against publisher, advertiser, and consumer privacy concerns. While privacy issues vary greatly by country, there is a universal wariness about whether the market will accept the consumer data collection required for BT. Publishers need better intelligence on data ownership and usage.

Accipiter found that publishers want to capitalize on the behavioral habits of consumers, who are increasingly consuming content via mobile devices. Global publishers are looking for BT applications that will be able to identify audiences across multiple platforms and forms of content consumption so they can establish universal user behavior patterns.

Publishers also seek BT solutions that can adjust to browsing habits of users by region and country. Publishers report that establishing BT patterns on frequency and duration requires modification by geographic area, because Internet usage habits vary greatly among audiences. For example, a publisher whose per-page usage views in one country are two times higher than similar users in another country must make sure that in establishing BT profiles, all users get considered for behavioral targeting -- not just the most active ones from a specific country.

In short, the findings reveal that globalization presents new opportunities for BT providers. But I believe that global investments in the technology will be slow until vendors around the world can ensure the success of BT as a discipline. Vendors can help put publishers and advertisers at ease by providing more guidelines for successful implementation, sharing advice, and by developing solutions that take into consideration the global advertising perspective.

Providers should help publishers and advertisers address the ongoing challenges surrounding consumer privacy and data ownership that have been barriers to adoption of BT.

Geoff Alexander is director of product strategy at Accipiter. (galexander@accipiter.com)