Saturday, May 19, 2007

Behavioral Targeting: Audience of One

This morning Washington past had an article titled “Web Ads with An Audience of One” discussing the growing use of Behavioral Targeting.

I have been writing about
Behavioral Targeting
since I started this blog and have been predicting growth of behavioral targeting. MSFT/aQuantive deal did not come a s a surprise to me, I expected it. Behavioral Targeting is going to be very prevalent especially now when all three MSFT, Google and Yahoo have built their capabilities are building them.

This article resurfaces the privacy concerns, as I wrote in my article Google Doubleclick Deal concerns Privacy Advocates the best way to deal with privacy is to move from opt-out to opt-in model.

…."I believe that if consumers are provided proper education (I will write about consumer benefits in one of my future posts) than they can infect benefit from Behavioral Targeting. It will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved. Proper education and disclosures by advertisers, publishers and networks will ease the concerns regarding Behavioral Targeting. Consumers have the right to opt out of Behavioral Targeting but what is lacking is proper education on how to do so. The networks currently opt-in users by default; however, in my opinion the proper process should be opt-out by default and opt-in if user chooses to opt-in, just like we do for emails and newsletters. This process will move the burden from users to the advertisers, publishers and networks.

In short run this could result in a lower reach for BT providers. But if the benefits to consumers are properly stated then most of the consumers will be willing to participate. If you (network or advertiser) tell a consumer that he/she does not need to go looking for deals or offers of products/services that he/she is in the market for, these deals/offers will be provided to him/her based on her online behavior no matter where in the network she is in, I think consumer will love it. If a consumer knows the process and she knows that she is willingly participating in the BT, the click-through rate on the ads will be higher too. Why force users into Behavioral Targeting and raise privacy concerns when you can offer them what they want (when they want) and make them your raving fans.


This article gives an example from DrivePM where a user who visits a hotel chain site but does not complete the booking can be reached at later point in time but this time the user gets a 10% off coupon as an incentive to complete the booking. Knowing the benefit won’t users allow networks to track them? I am sure those who see the value in this 10% will surely do. As I said above give users what they want and they will give you what you want. If users know that they can have offers tailored to their needs by just letting a network track them, chances are very good that users will let them do it. Users sign up for grocery card rewards program just to get few cents off then how is it different online? Let users decide what and how they want you to track.

One another note: I am puzzled by the quote from Curt Viebranz of Tacoda “…….. we’re literally collecting 10 Billion behaviors a day”. In my article titled Calculating Behaviors on your Site I questioned a similar quote from Revenue Science. Can somebody from Tacoda or Revenue Science please clarify how you calculate behaviors or quit using such meaningless stats.