In just a few short years behavioral targeting has moved from a strange novelty (looked at curiously and skeptically by marketers) to an over-used buzz term, looked at all too often naively by marketers as a technological panacea. To make BT truly live up to its potential, however, as Jon Mendez, founder of OttoDigital and blogger at optimizeandprophesize.com explains, marketers need to learn to look at it in another way: less as a technological magic bullet and more in terms of overall strategic optimization.
Not all behavioral targeting needs to sell cars and travel. At the activist and progressive hub Care2.com, causes are the merchandise and call to action has a very specific meaning. The 8-million-member social network for people who want to get involved and make personal changes does lead generation campaigns for 300 nonprofits. With 50 to 75 campaigns running across many different interests, director of nonprofit campaigns, Joe Baker, tells us how Care2 uses BT to match the right people with the right causes.
For larger advertisers, behavioral targeting is no longer a "wish-list" item. It's become an accepted part of the everyday marketing mix, bringing with it new possibilities for extending not only reach but efficiency deep into the long tail of consumers. For smaller advertisers, however, the promises of BT have remained largely theoretical, as Michael Sprouse, CMO of ad network AzoogleAds, explains. Making BT small and advertiser-friendly, he says, will involve breaking the complexity barrier.
Performance ad network AdKnowledge reported recently that in 2007 the number of clicks on its text ads had increased 300%. As president Brett Brewer notes, the company profiles users based on their previous history of interacting with ads, and then distributes that knowledge to publishers for their Web sites as well as their email, search and display channels. Recent acquisitions and partnerships in the social networking space have resulted in a product that applies these targeting methods to the emerging widget marketplace.
In its still-young life, behavioral targeting has already taken the notion of one-to-one advertising from visionary theory to everyday practice. While BT has put customized advertising to consumers on the agenda, its next big challenge, according to Robert Tas, CEO of Active Athlete, will be to bring a one-to-one approach to brands by offering true customization of behavioral segmentation within verticals.
You can't get much closer to the full depth and breadth of users' behavior than tracking their clickstream and activity from the time they get online. This is what ISP-level behavioral tracking can offer service providers as a way to monetize their otherwise "dumb pipe" and to ad networks as another way to target campaigns more accurately. After years of watching the approach succeed in Asian and European markets, U.S. service providers are only beginning to consider implementing it here. Front Porch, works extensively in Asia and helps monetize the largest free ISP in Europe, FreeHotspot.com. Derek Maxson, Front Porch's …
Video formats continue to proliferate nearly as fast (sometimes seemingly even faster) than the voluminous influx of digital video content. Yet in comparison video targeting, particularly targeting based on behavioral profiling and segmentation, has been glacially slow. Indeed, despite many incremental starts, video targeting has yet to move fully and decisively beyond the Pavlov's Dog approach of slewing ads at a captive audience of couch potatoes that defined targeting a generation ago. Seriously closing that gap, Steve Robinson, CEO of Panache Technologies, explains, will be the major challenge of video publishers and advertisers alike in 2008.
As traffic fragments around the Web, finding a large qualified audience to target becomes an everyday challenge for media buyers. The usual suspects in a given segment, whether it is entertainment, auto or fashion, become the natural locus for ad dollars, inventory squeezes and CPM inflation. Behavior Match is an intriguing new planning tool from Compete Inc. that segments users into 150 categories and then tracks their usage and concentrations across thousands of large and small sites. As CMO Stephen DiMarco tells us this week, the approach helps media buyers discover hidden gems in the ever-expanding mediaverse fragmented audiences
We've come a pretty long way in 40 years from "the medium is the message," the mantra of the modern mass market, to the consumer is the message. Or so it often seems. A huge gap remains, however, between recognizing the need to customize both medium and message for each consumer and actually doing so, as Brian Deegan, CEO of Knotice, explains. Successfully bridging that gap, he predicts, will differentiate the winners from the also-rans in behavioral marketing in 2008.