One of the ongoing challenges of online advertising has been to live up to its potential for uniquely precise micro-targeting on a big enough scale to make a real difference for advertisers. For the emerging mobile ad space, as Tom Burgess, CEO of Third Screen Media explains, the issues as well as the opportunities of scaling targeting are even more pronounced.
Behavioral targeting works well enough when you hit interested customers with generic ads for your brand. But how much better does it convert in-market viewers when the creative itself addresses very specific details of those users' recent online behavior? Greg Smith, CEO of EchoTarget, Inc., says his hotel and travel clients can see a 200% to 400% lift in transactions when the behavioral network sends the right destination-specific creative to targets.
In contrast to the online space -- where behavioral data is abundant, but truly meaningful customer data remains a challenge -- mobile operators and publishers have an incredible wealth of highly personalized subscriber data to start with. Their challenge, as Nick Lim, product management director of Enpocket, explains, is learning how to relate all the rich demographic, usage and other kinds of information at their disposal to transform it into real-time intelligence.
Advertisers continue to be shy about putting their brands into the mosh pit of user-generated media and social networking, because you never really know where (and next to what) your ad will show up. By applying behavioral targeting techniques to the unique activities of social media, a brand can segment audience more precisely and advertise to them in social settings with greater confidence, according to Andy Monfried, president/founder, Lotame.
With over 10% of America's 200-plus million cell phone subscribers now using the wireless Web on a regular basis, it's clear a critical mass of both consumers and mobile consumer data will soon exist to make scaleable mobile targeting a reality. In theory, that is. In practice, the challenge remains creating a viable "ecosystem" for leveraging all that emerging behavioral data among mobile operators, mobile content providers and advertisers. Adam Soroca, vice president of search at JumpTap, a provider of "white label" search solutions for mobile operators, outlines what such an "ecosystem" might look like.
If our informal straw poll of BT's top executives is any indication, there doesn't appear to be a comprehensive interest in the field to push the issue at consumers. Generally, digital users are not complaining. As Dave Moore, CEO and chairman of 24/7 Real Media, tells us this week, it really isn't that complicated for consumer to grasp. "If you frequently visit travel sites, then you will receive more travel ads," he says.
Most current approaches to behavioral targeting put all or nearly all their emphasis on what people are looking at and for online. While that's an important first step, truly customized granular targeting involves going deeper, learning new ways of asking and answering the question of why and how specific consumer segments differ in their search behavior, as Susie Kang, senior vice president of WhitePages.com, explains.
Consumers need to consider how well the online ad industry protects rather than violates their privacy, says SpecificMedia CEO Tim Vanderhook. SpecificMedia targets up to 80 million unique users demographically, contextually and behaviorally across its ad network. Explaining to end users the technical details of cookie placement and anonymous tracking, let alone the B2B relationships among advertisers, networks, and publishers, may not be a cost-effective solution to the privacy debate, he argues.