Sunday, March 25, 2007

Google and Behavioral Targeting

Google, so far, has refrained from behavioral targeting. But I think it is about time and it is the logical next action for Google to start offering Behavioral Targeting to its advertisers and publishers. Yahoo and MSN are both testing their Behavioral Targeting capabilities; their Behavioral targeting depends on the user data generated on their own sites. Tacoda and Revenue Science built the concept of network first and then are recruiting publishers to participate in the networks. Google is taking all together a new route. It is busy putting its footprint all over the web. These footprints will help Google build the largest and the best Behavioral targeting Ad network. Google already has publishers (Google Search, Content Network, You Tube) and advertisers (Adwords and PPC). Visitor behavior will come from various Google applications which are everywhere on the web. Google knows more about the user on the web that any other company knows. Google is every where (almost) on the web.
Let’s start from Google Search. Via user's search keywords and key phrases Google knows what the user searched for, how many times she searched, which sites she visited, how many times and what time of the day she searched. Google might not know the visitors name but knows the visitor via anonymous cookie.
When a visitor arrives at any site from Google search chances are Google will be present there in form of Adsense, Adwords, Google Checkout or Google Analytics.
Even if a visitor by passes the Google search and uses some other way (yahoo search, live search, bookmark, by directly typing in the URL or any other way) chances are she will visit a site which has Google in one or more of above mentioned form.
Google Adsense/Adwords – A visitor who clicks on an Adsense Ad reveals a lot of about her preferences. Just like search Google knows, Google knows which sites (products, offers) the visitor is interested in. How many times the visitors clicks on the ads and what types of ads she clicks on.
Gmail – Google know what emails a user gets, it knows the content of the email, just look at all the ads that show up when you are reading your email. Even if Google does not have the users physical address it knows how to reach her.
Google Checkout – Google knows what a user buys, where she buys from, how often she buys and voila by using Google checkout she just gave Google her name, address etc.
Google Analytics – This is the one of the best tool (as far as behavioral targeting is concerned) Google has put on the web. Not only will it tell Google which sites the user visits, it will also tell Google where she visits them from, what pages she looks at , how long she stays on which site, what she buys, what keeps her engaged and what does not and list goes on.
You Tube, Blogger, New alerts and several other Google products provide will further enhance the data set Google has.
Google Analytics, Google Search and Adsense is where the majority of the data and the power of the network will come from. Aggregated data of all the applications will provide such a rich set of that that within 2 – 3 clicks Google will know weather user is a good prospect for a particular offer, product, service etc. or not.
I think it is a matter of time when Google start connecting the dots and announce it’s entry into Behavioral Targeting. They might call it something else but at the core it will be leveraging the visitors’ behavior all across the web to better target ad on its network.