Where The Next Ad-Targeting Technology Might Come From

Even the best platforms demonstrate limits when it comes to identifying and addressing one target audience on one device, let alone reaching the same user across multiple platforms, according to Forrester Research Analysts.

Forrester Analyst Joanna O'Connell lists the biggest challenges in the report, "Solving The Cross-Platform Targeting Riddle": identifying an individual consumer, reaching that consumer across an increasing number of devices and platforms, and partnering with vendors to build an infrastructure around traditional targeting mechanisms.

O'Connell uses the word "perpetually" to describe connected consumers -- pretty scary stuff when you stop to think about it. And she's correct. I never turn off my phone. I don't for personal reasons. In the U.S., by the end of 2012, 42% of online adults met the Forrester definition of PCCs, up from 38% in late 2011.

Globally, Forrester predicts by the end of 2013, close to half of online adults will become PCC, which opens an opportunity for marketers to address consumers any time, anywhere. At the same time this continual connection posses challenges, she tell us. It creates the need for data-driven interactions.

The report also analyzes cookie-based targeting. After 15 years, the little piece of code in a computer's browser is finally showing signs of strain. While there's not a clear winner in this category, O'Connell tells us about three options for targeting: cookie, person, and inference.

While cookie-based targeting can lay claim to being the oldest, person-based takes the honor of the most accurate. O'Connell refers to inference-based targeting as the latest option to watch. Inference relies on statistics for one or more parameters to make a strong guess about a unique user through device, cookie, and browser characteristics. She points to BlueCava and Drawbridge as two companies offering this service.

Decisions backed by data will prove more profitable than those that are not. Marketers leading the deployments will support strategies with a data management platform, take advantage of publishers' direct control of first-party data, and work with third-party data providers to gain a mix of ephemeral and persistent signals.

6 comments about "Where The Next Ad-Targeting Technology Might Come From".
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  1. Jonny Rose from idio, September 5, 2013 at 8:25 a.m.

    Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for writing this interesting piece.

    Just this week, we asked the same question and - as well as documenting the useful technologies in the retargeting space - have also cogitated about what's coming next. In our view, it's "pre-targeting".

    You can read more about our view here on the idio blog:

    "From retargeting to pre-targeting"

    I hope it spurs some further thoughts :)

    Jonny Rose

  2. Scott Krauss from LiveIntent, September 5, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.

    The obvious answer to targeting users on mobile and across different devices is, the email address or rather the MD5 Hash of the Email Address.

    No need to tie a bunch of data elements together to create a unique ID because it already exists.

  3. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, September 5, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.

    Jonny, Scott - thanks for commenting. Anyone else have another idea on what the next data targeting platform and strategy looks like, and how search data might play a role? What about social data?

  4. James Webb from Massive Strategy, September 5, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.

    Laurie, I believe mobile is the next frontier for targeting, with geo-targeting and geo-fencing already in play. It will integrate with social and search data, and the technology will only advance in this nascent space. iI will be fun!

  5. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, September 5, 2013 at 6:58 p.m.

    URL Text Links. This is the DNA for all online or mobile ads. Without text link, nothing works including banners . Google DoubleClick controls the text links and will not open them up to all the ad markets.

    Sweepstakes Today was refused by Google DoubleClick text links even under control conditions maybe 8 years ago. I estimated that ST would have earned well over $100,000 a month from Text Links but no deal. I even offered Google a piece of the deal but no dice.

  6. Donald Nosek from Digital.Strategy.Sales.Marketing, September 7, 2013 at 7:29 p.m.

    Thanks Laurie. I agree cookie-based tracking is lacking...but person-based has privacy issues and I think it will be some time before the CMOs, VPs and Marketing directors I work with will accept "inference" based tracking. Unfortunately, the answers may lie beyond these 3... I love looking toward the future though, thanks!

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