Driving the big online data deals (Google/Doubleclick; Microsoft/aQuantive) is the power of behavioral targeting (BT) to profile, track, and target consumers online. More major advertisers are embracing BT, adding such data collection strategies to their arsenal of demographic, psychographic, technical, contextual, and search targeting weapons. Here’s how a new (and recommended) eMarketer report defines BT (all quotes with our italics):
“…behavioral targeting segments the audience based on observed and measured information. Whether behavioral targeting is done on a single site, a large portal or across an ad network, the behavior that publishers, advertisers and providers typically identify includes what pages or sites a user visits, what content is viewed and what subjects are searched for. These data are combined with the time, length and frequency of visits.
Behavioral information can also be merged with visitor data—such as age, gender and ZIP code—derived from site registration or Web publisher surveys to assign individuals to target groups even more accurately.”
eMarketer’s report cites Tacoda’s Dave Morgan who says “what behavioral targeting means at a deeper level is serving ads to individuals based on their previous browsing or purchasing history.” Morgan also is quoted saying (in light of a potential GoogleClick): “Here’s why Google has to play it safe [with behavioral targeting], because they’re not transparent about what data they keep and what they do with it—and they expect people to rely on how they keep their best interests in mind.”
One of our concerns about Google and Doubleclick is the integration of search and BT. So, eMarketer’s analysis is useful for the FTC and other policymakers: “The Holy Grail for online ad targeting is a combination of the behavioral technique on top of other methods, especially search… the combination will be popular: 55% of search engine advertisers would pay a premium of 11% or more for behavioral projections to help target paid search advertising…”
The report suggests that such a melding of BT and search is in its “testing” stage. We believe it is likely further along that that, with Microsoft’s adLab and other efforts working full time to expand data collection and targeting for online advertisers. Coming soon, is BT tied to the deliver of video programming online. As we explained to the FTC and others, you have to understand online advertising—and all the mergers—in the context of an online ad system combining search and rich media (video) marketing.
eMarketer also reports that behaviorally targeting is “shifting away from single sites and onto advertising networks” (citing Advertising.com’s 2007 Online Publisher Survey). That’s another reason why the FTC must act soon. No time like the review of GoogleClick (once an agency is selected for Microsft/aQuantive, we will send a similar message about that deal. Btw, we think Yahoo! and WPP’s deals need to be examined as well).
Souce: Behavioral Targeting: Advertising Gets Personal. eMarketer. June 2007