Tacoda Goes Vertical, Taps Tech Site For Behavioral Targeting

Tacoda Systems, which provides behavioral targeting services for such large Internet publishers as Weather.com, Forbes.com, and Scripps Company's Scripps Networks, announced on Monday that it had signed an agreement to extend its targeting services to Portland, OR-based technology publisher TechTracker, Inc.

The deal marks the first vertical publisher client-win for Tacoda Systems; it could be the first such partnership for the behavioral targeting industry in general. Vertical sites, which already target specific audiences, have been considered unlikely candidates for behavioral targeting technologies by industry analysts in the past.

TechTracker, Inc. will be deploying Tacoda's Audience Management System (AMS) to segment its user base, but has no plans to become part of Tacoda's behavioral targeting network, which is still in development. AMS enables Web publishers to create audience segments by tracking users' individual activity on the publisher's site or network of sites; related Web site registration information can be added to this to create more defined segments. Advertisers may then purchase segments, and their messages will be viewed when a user whose behavior matches the purchased segment is active on the publisher's site. Publishers then share revenues with Tacoda.



According to TechTracker Strategic Account Manager Michael Pruette, the company decided to pursue a partnership with Tacoda because of agency demand for the technology. "We would get specific requests from agencies on behalf of their clients asking for greater targeting," Pruette said. He admitted that TechTracker's consumer base is already very targeted, but noted that the company was reacting to industry demand for the new technology.

Pruette added that after attending one of Tacoda's frequent client summits in Manhattan this summer, he had introduced himself to several agency representatives who had guaranteed him their clients would spend with TechTracker once the company implemented Tacoda's behavioral targeting system. "Ultimately, clients want higher ROI (return on investment)," Pruette said, noting that agency people he had spoken with said that behavioral targeting was on their clients' list of requirements.

"With AMS, TechTracker will be able to produce audience segments such as 'creative professionals' or 'IT administrators' that give advertisers a clearer idea of their individual interests," said Dave Morgan, president and CEO of Tacoda Systems. Now that advertisers have become more comfortable with basic targeting, he said they want more, "and publishers are being rewarded for [being able to provide] it."

Morgan noted that for advertisers, the cost of purchasing targeted audience segments on a vertical technology site like TechTracker will most likely be more than that of a more broad-reaching content provider like America Online or Yahoo! He added that higher costs are usually associated with both consumer-facing and B2B (business to business) technology sites, because they represent some of the most sought-after inventory on the Web. Morgan said these sites serve audiences that tend to be affluent and tend to represent affluent companies. He also noted that tech advertisers represent one of the largest segments of online spending.

TechTracker, Inc. is a network of technology information sites that includes VersionTracker, MacFixIt, TechSpot, Computing.net, and BetaNews.com. Its sites promote computer security and stability through software and product information, downloads, reviews, tips, and special reports for over 36,000 software products. TechTracker generates 5 million monthly uniques and 50 million page views per month.

According to TechTracker's Pruette, the company probably will not be offering Tacoda's behavioral targeting services until the first quarter of next year. TechTracker has yet to decide on pricing, the data to be used to create audience segments, or general site availability.

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