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You'd have to be living under a rock if you haven't heard all the hoopla about behavioral targeting. Let's face it, knowing what your prospects do, search for, buy, etc. online is the Holy Grail for advertisers (especially this one).

Several years ago I used to run the interactive media group at Arnold Advertising (now MPG). At the time, we were launching VW online. The power behind the brand's advertising was the team behind the account. The consumer insight group's findings allowed us to combine the rational with the emotional (or as Arnold's own Fran Kelly dubbed it, brand essence). We knew just about everything about VW drivers. We knew what they ate. We knew what kind of laundry detergent they used.

The beauty of all of this was that my team could take all these offline findings and apply it to online strategies. What we couldn't do was track VW prospects and driver behaviors online. Sure we were able to create some solid deductive reasoning about time spent, sites visiting, and the like. However, no one was offering behavioral targeting.



Of course today things have changed. My approach to advertising hasn't. I remember being in a "war room" brainstorming about upcoming campaigns when a colleague said, "It's not about demographics it's about lifestyle and behavior. And you know what? It was. For instance, we were not only on endemic sites at the time. We were on lifestyle sites such as smaller enthusiast sites in ad networks like snowboarding, financial sites, and gaming sites, to name a few.

I see how the industry has evolved when it comes to behavioral targeting and offerings today. I always think back to those days.

I'm not sure if you've seen any of the results of the 24/7 Real Media Study. The company recently announced the first results and key findings. It plans to offer it quarterly. 24/7 Real Media discovered that behaviorally targeted campaigns increased the revenue per thousand of network inventory by 360 percent. One of the case studies was for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The company's behavioral advertising campaigns increased reach and accuracy, decreased waste, and increased ROI by 22 percent.

Behavioral targeting makes it easy for advertisers. Certainly not all sites have accepted this practice. However, I anticipate more and more sites will realize the value of behavioral targeting and begin offering it.

The space is still evolving. I think this is online advertising at its finest. I'd like to know if you've had experience in behavioral targeting online? If so, please share it with me and other readers on the SPIN board. After all, we are all searching for better ROI.

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