Oh behave!

Never a bad thing to quote my compatriot Mr Powers. 

Tacoda, aCerno, ContextWeb, Quantcast, Ad.com, 24/7 Real Media and the rest. Behavioral targeting is clearly the methodology du jour. The notion is simple; if we can identify a past behavior we can infer the likelihood of a future action. Specifically if we can associate a behavior with a cookie we can find and target that cookie on another occasion. EVEN more specifically if we can spot that cookie in some premium media environment we can find them again in another environment where the price of the inventory is 20 X or 50 X less than the cost in the original environment.

If this is possible we create an arbitrage environment in which we buy plain vanilla (hotmail or myspace) and sell raspberry ripple, cherry garcia and the rest at premium prices. Just so long as the cost per action is less than in prime time everybody wins. Genius.

So to the complication. There are DOZENS of behavioral targeting vendors and DOZENS more owners of digital inventory that have a behavioral targeting proposition within their own inventory offer so the question becomes which behavior offers the best inference of future action?

Many BT players will infer that reading about Tiger Woods represents an interest in golf so that cookie, when it appears elsewhere, might be an opportunity for a seller of golf balls. Others suggest that reading about Tiger Woods suggests that there is value to be had on other golf sites as the reader has suggested a preference. Still others cluster activities to aggregate a behavior creating inferred psycographic profiles used, again, to create audiences that can be targeted off prime.

Then you have re-targeting that proposes that the killer app is the ability to find previous visitors to yoursite.com on other sites and finally (for this piece anyway) some offer the ability to find people who have shopped or browsed for given categories or products.

What a choice. The usual rules apply. What are the objectives of your marketing? Are they short term sales or long term preference or demand creation? Are you concerned about the context in which your communications appear or is that immaterial regardless of the potential damage to the brand? Are you able to convince yourself that the targeting methodology and the premium it attracts represents true value?

Even though most BT deals are sold on a cost per action it’s worth considering the above in addition to the provider of the lowest CPA because, as ever, there is no such thing as a free lunch even if ‘you really want it baby.’

Curious to hear from the vendors here. Which behavior do you think really matters?





1 Comment

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One response to “Oh behave!

  1. Rich Dunmall

    Hey mate,
    Hate to admit it but enjoying the content :-).

    My personal view is one of common sense (i hope)…the best media planners & buyers (and their clients) will follow sensible principles, be creative & open-minded to the myriad of opportunities out there, and figure out what works for them. We should move away from the notion of ‘behaviour’ and simply to ‘targeting’ (within which either actual or assumed behaviours are a useful subset – but only one). As we think more about audiences at scale, with as much laser-like targeting as you do or don’t want, we benefit from broadening the definition.

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