A Question Of Influence: BT And Accountability

 As behavioral targeting has moved in the past few years from novelty toward necessity, many marketers have come to realize that behavioral technologies, like consumers, are unique, and that one size does not fit all. As Web developers, optimizers and advertisers attempt to apply an ever wider array of behavioral approaches, Elizabeth Apelles, CEO of Greater Than One, an ad agency widely deploying behavioral solutions, explains below, the task of understanding the multi-dimensional impacts  of behaviors on results, becomes more and more central.


Behavioral Insider: What is the background of Greater than One?

Elizabeth Apelles: GTO is a full-service digital agency that provides a mix of strategy, web development, organic and paid search, media, eCRM and social media to clients. We use BT for clients in media and paid search campaigns. We also leverage those results and BT learning outside of paid media for website development and SEO initiatives.



BI: How extensively do you use behavioral targeting? Is it something used for all clients?

Apelles: It of course depends on the client and their individual business objectives, but it is always part of the toolset we consider for each client, plus we see it as an opportunity to potentially enhance or improve client results.

BI: When have you found is the best time for marketers to start using behavioral targeting?

Apelles: GTO always starts its client work by building a 360 degree view of the customer, and we use that insight to guide everything we do, whether it's a media campaign or a website build. We do custom research to study how human behavior can influence online initiatives. To be most effective in these efforts marketers need to realize a good portion of this needs to be done before the site is created or the campaign starts.

BI: What's the most important thing for your clients to know about behavioral?

Apelles: We see behavioral as an approach, not a product. It is an opportunity that continues to evolve, so there is continually an effort to try to improve results and apply prior learning to future campaigns.

BI: What are the benefits, in terms of campaign measurement, when using behavioral?

Apelles: It provides us with the opportunities to reach a targeted audience outside of the normal clutter of contextual placements and targeting the audience demo. When you are able to link to behavior, this is a huge step toward greater accountability versus just tracking small actions like clicks.

BI: Have you found behavioral a more cost-efficient approach to media?

Apelles: Yes, it's often more cost-efficient. In addition the media you are buying is in areas that will prevent the advertiser's message from needing to compete against their direct competitors. This usually results in greater conversion rates as the advertiser's message will be top of mind when reaching these targeted audiences.

BI: What are the biggest gaps in current technology platforms for behavioral deployment?

Apelles: The one thing lacking in traditional ad serving solutions beyond just accurate measurement and conversion attribution is a component to pull in behavioral targeting data from the proprietary solutions that each BT vendor uses.

We think there is still an opportunity for a true 'behavioral analytics' product to help fill this gap and provide data in a centralized location that can be used to easily surface insights and assist in optimization.

Instead, we're left to do this manually for clients with customized models based on previous performance.

BI: There's been an increased focus on 'new' metrics. Have you seen an increased interest in behavior analytics?

Apelles: Absolutely. However with all the 'new' metrics out there, the focus always must be on which metrics to prioritize. To do this we ask, 'How do you measure success?' and then 'What are the most critical things that we need to know?' We then identify the process for how we will obtain that knowledge and report it to the business.

BI: Given the current economic downturn, have you seen an increased need for accountability in behavioral targeting solutions?

Apelles: Our approach has always been heavily focused on results accountability. Our biggest concern is when leveraging multiple BT solutions that conversions are being accurately attributed to each source and to solve for this we are focusing on engagement mapping.

BI: Have privacy concerns affected your clients' interest in behavioral? And, how have you quelled these client concerns?

Apelles: Yes, we work quite often in pharma and healthcare, so the sensitivity is much greater than in some other industries. As an agency, we're most concerned about the trends in user backlash against cookies in BT and privacy. To make sure we are on top of these issues we are always meeting with our vendors to better understand their technologies, process, and policies, and we distill this information to clients through POVs, presentations on industry trends, and in our general conversations with stakeholders. Sometimes we are taking this information directly to the internal regulatory bodies within a client to assure alignment with their privacy guidelines.

BI: What needs to change to make behavioral more effective for marketers?

Apelles: On a qualitative basis, more opportunities for deeper customer insight that can provide more knowledge about what their customers did and why they did it. On a quantitative basis, solutions that can measure back to offline success metrics and true ROI.

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