Almost a year after adding behavioral targeting to its own mix, the Jumpstart vertical ad network for the auto industry decided the market needed additional education in the technology. More precisely, auto advertisers needed a bit of clarification in a confusing marketplace, explains Joe Kyriakoza, vice president of product strategy. Jumpstart’s new WhatisBT.com Web site offers auto media buyers a crib sheet on the format, basic definitions, explanations of the technology and a rundown of how the various types of BT relate to auto marketing. We asked Kyriakoza what Jumpstart itself has learned in the past year about client attitudes towards BT.
Behavioral Insider: Were there recent client experiences that led you to make WhatisBT.com?
Joe Kyriakoza: A lot of our clients come with interest in BT, but don’t necessarily know where the data is coming from, who is providing it, where their ads are being served. They get different flavors from other sites, anywhere from ad networks to portals to content sites. Because so many people in the business are involved in some form of BT, we’re just trying to simplify it specifically for the auto community. We took some of the learnings we had in the marketplace and put it into an informative Web site. Every publisher has their own version and that is where some of the confusion lies.
Behavioral Insider: I notice your Buying Guide zeroes in on particular kinds of BT that you think are more and less appropriate for the auto industry. You discuss weaknesses in targeting simply the ‘auto intender,’ for instance.
Kyriakoza: Some companies say we can target ‘auto intenders,’ so it may be just a generic ad network. The question is, where are those auto intenders creating that intention? Some may get that data from an enthusiast auto site, so it’s not necessarily an in-market shopper. We are saying that if you are looking for auto shoppers and trying to sell cars, a general auto intender isn’t necessarily the most qualified. It could be a qualified person but not the most qualified.
Behavioral Insider: You are also not that high on keyword searches.
Kyriakoza: Right. They run the gamut; someone who types in ‘car’ could be considered in-market by search engines. Typing in ‘Ford Taurus 2007’ makes them a little more ready to buy, you think. The problem with search is that there is a large disparity between the types of keywords that really drive intention. It lacks some of the definition you really need to qualify that person.
Behavioral Insider: Most clients and agencies don’t like talking in detail about their BT buys. Is there still suspicion or skittishness about the technique?
Kyriakoza: There’s still an underlying fear regarding privacy. I think it’s just more that BT is still in its infancy and hasn’t really broken ground yet as a primary strategy for auto companies. They are just getting a feeling for whether it is an integral part of the strategy and what does it mean to the media budget. And there’s that black box element to BT. The data capture and all the information that goes into executing, that is still a little unknown to a lot of people.
Behavioral Insider: You folded BT into the mix a year ago. What share of campaigns now have BT components?
Kyriakoza: I can say that 80% plus of our customers have been very receptive to including BT in their campaigns. What we’ve seen in the first year is a lot of people wanting to test it and see how it works for them. I think what we’re going through now is an interesting stage of how BT is working its way into the media strategy. It’s not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison with contextually in-market sites. On one of our sites like NADAGuides.com, those people are in-market and looking for cars at that moment and in a different mindset. What is happening in our industry is that performance is being gauged apples to apples by contextual and behavioral. And they’re not. They have different qualities that need to be highlighted separately. Direct response is clearly different for the contextual vs. the behavioral, and there is a disconnect there in the marketplace.
Behavioral Insider: Is there a misunderstanding about what the disparate response rates mean?
Kyriakoza: There is a difference in types of behavior. If someone is in the mindset of buying a car at that moment, they might be more inclined to price a vehicle and do all those things they do when shopping for a car. But someone who is behaviorally targeted might not visit the site until a week later, but keeps it top-of-mind. There is a different mindset of the user that needs to be recognized differently. We’re trying to demonstrate that through case studies we will conduct over the next few months. We want to help the industry understand better how users respond and how the contextual ads vs. the behavioral ads are really different and provide positive response but in a different way.
Behavioral Insider: Let’s come from the opposite direction from where we started. Do you think BT sometimes is being oversold, that clients come in expecting too much from it or have too much of their budget going into it?
Kyriakoza: Since we are a vertical network, our inventory is coveted because of the limited inventory [in the segment]. I wouldn’t say that the appetite is greater than what we sell as a contextual buy, but I would say the appetite is growing. As we look at different ways to optimize and make it a more efficient buy, it will be probably be equal to -- and maybe at some point more interesting to -- the customer, just because of the fact that there is only so much scale you can provide on the contextual level. What is happening is that the behavioral budget may just be chiseling a bit on the demographic budget and creating a more efficient buy, a kind of in-between.
Behavioral Insider: Is there a logical next step for BT in auto?
Kyriakoza: I think that we just have to help the marketplace as publishers define where BT fits into the overall strategy. We have to help our customers define that and help them understand the differences between a contextual buy and a behavioral buy in auto.