Behavioral Targeting: Chicken Soup for Recession’s Soul

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ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — Anything can be cured with chicken soup – according to my grandmother, at least.

Though she never dealt with the international economy or interactive advertising campaigns, my grandmother did use her amazing wealth wisdom to solve an endless parade of family dilemmas (that my aunts will tell you were no less complex than, oh, say, NAFTA).

So let’s take a look at her chicken soup theory a little more closely:

We tend to get sick because we don’t listen to what our body tells us. We work late when we’re exhausted and then we eat take-out and hit up the vending machine when we should be nourishing our body … and inevitably, we get sick.

When I got sick, grandma would have me come over to eat some of her chicken soup.

But eating soup meant first waiting until it was just right. Next, eating chicken and vegetables along with the soup with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. And finally … resting.

In essence, she just changed the bad behavior which caused us to get sick in the first place.

As we approach times of uncertainty in 2008, it’s also important for us to evaluate our behavior. Are we committing budgets to campaigns without testing our efforts? Are we developing social networking campaigns which do not engage our prospects just to say that we’re doing ‘something’ social? Are we running elusive video-branding campaigns with repurposed TV commercials?

If so, then it’s time to change our behavior.

What behavioral targeting has always offered is a way to engage with our target audience in a way that is in-line with their behavior. So if a consumer just happens to read a few reviews of laptops, then they’re probably at scouting out laptops to buy. And if they visit several Web sites about Hawaii, then they’re probably interested in taking a trip to Hawaii.

Though there could be other reasons why they’re reading up on laptops and Hawaii, the likelihood that they’re somewhere in the purchase process has been supported by a spate of recent studies.

To paraphrase a report by eMarketer’s David Hallerman, the three reasons he cites for gains in behavioral targeting are:

1.    Marketers are able to reach more engaged audiences in fewer advertising impressions with behavioral targeting.
2.    Publishers are able to monetize their ‘long tail pages’ – remnant inventory that is hard to sell without behavioral targeting.
3.    Users tend to find behaviorally targeted ads more relevant to their needs, and therefore more acceptable, even welcome.

As creatures of habit, it only makes sense to target our marketing efforts according to habits and behaviors. And in economically questionable times, stepping up every aspect of your game is more important than ever.

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