BT: The Teen Years
Going in, we had statistics from eMarketer showing that high percentages of marketers are interested in behavioral targeting products but the level of spending is only starting to move beyond a few hundred million a year.
Curiosity is higher than spending, but as our publisher Ken Fadner suggested to me on the sidelines today, there seems to be a rising general interest in more scientific and precise approaches to advertising right now. That level of interest was reflected by the overflowing crowd at the Yale Club and by their unusual inquisitiveness.
Getting audiences, even marketers, to quiz the panelists from the floor is always a challenge at shows, but we often had to cut the Q&A short for lack of time.
The panelists themselves suggested how fragmented and young BT is as a sub-domain of interactive marketing. The publisher panel was a study in contrast, between sectors like auto (Robert Ames of Hachette) which is selling behavioral products at a fast clip and to a growing percentage of clients, and general content (HowThingsWork.com) where less than 4% of sales come from BT and the company is happy with that.
It is not just that BT fits some content and audience sectors more than others. The difference among some sites in their views about how the technology fits their own inventory and brand strategy is tremendous. Brian Quinn of WSJ.com was especially strong on this latter point.
While the recent acquisitions of 24/7 and now Tacoda suggest a maturing of the BT industry, I was struck by how young it really feels. Standards are still fleeting and the market is still cluttered by too many companies claiming to do too many flavors of behavioral marketing. There is still a lot of confusion in the market over what differentiates these vendors.
The huge attendance at this show demonstrates that BT has reached a milestone of acceptance if not a tipping point in investment or maturity of product.