It’s Time to Incorporate Behavioral Targeting

By | November 19, 2010

Russia spies on the United States. The United States spies on Russia. In the marketplace, competitors spy on one another. Knowing what your competitors are doing helps you plan your next move. Print’s biggest competitor is online marketing. If it wants to compete, it needs to do a bit of spying.

One of the things online marketing is doing well is behavioral targeting. In other words, tracking information on an individual’s web-browsing behavior, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made, and then selecting which advertisements or products to display based on that information.

A research study from the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) conducted earlier this year found that, in 2009, behaviorally targeted advertising secured an average of 2.68 times the revenue per ad as non-targeted “run of network” advertising.

Behaviorally targeted advertising was also found to be more than twice as effective at converting “ad clickers” into actual buyers and that behavioral advertising accounted for approximately 18% of advertising revenue.

Other studies support these findings. According to eMarketer, 14.2% of all display ad spending in 2010 will use some form of consumer behavior data for targeting ads. By 2014, nearly one in five display ad dollars will be linked to behavioral targeting (AdWeek Feb. 18, 2010).

What does this mean for print? Two things.

  1. Behavioral targeting works. Although behavioral targeting is a term used in online advertising, the concept applies across media. The more we can target consumer behavior in print, the more effective print will become.
  2. As more and more online marketers and publishers incorporate behavioral targeting, the more consumers will expect it. Print doesn’t want to be affected by negative differentiation.

Consumers don’t make a distinction between print and online marketing. They expect the same type of relevance from print as they do online. Print cannot be expected to do everything online advertising does (and it has its own benefits that online does not), but you don’t want lack of relevance and personalization to be a glaring negative differentiator, either.

It’s time to bring behavioral targeting into print.

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4 thoughts on “It’s Time to Incorporate Behavioral Targeting

  1. Bill Strobridge

    Intriguing article, however I’m not sure you defined behavioral targeting enough for a simple guy like me to implement. Is this just another term for relavance and personalization?

  2. Elizabeth Gooding

    Actually – some of the approaches I believe Heidi is talking about have been used by leading companies for print communications for some time. For example, CIGNA Retirement (now part of Prudential) used a combination of behavioral targeting and adult learning theory to improve their participant communications. Let me define this very simply…

    They looked at specific behaviors that they wanted to influence (join the plan, save more money, don’t take a loan, visit the website for educational content) and then looked at what would influence those behaviors, and the behaviors that they could look for that were triggers for a communication. Some were very simple – if a person called the call center for loan information they would blast them with information and messaging on why taking a loan from their retirement plan was a bad idea. Someone who takes the time to rebalance their asset allocation is a good candidate to contact about the impact of saving more.

    CIGNA did not use behavioral targeting alone, they were also using segment information and adult learning theory, but they were able to drive measurable improvements in 11 target behaviors in the first year with their updated communications process.

  3. Geert Venhuizen

    Great observation and very true as well. Big challenge however I see in this area is being able to match online data to offline data. You will need a matchkey that is collected online to be able to identify your prospect/client offline. Surely, e-mail address is one, but especially when you are prospecting this is not something that is widely available let alone robust in the offline world. (lists).

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro

    Ideally, we’d need to match online data. But there are “behaviors” we can target that can be found offline, too. We can track purchases. We can build demographic profiles. We can use analytics tools to develop customer profiles. We can survey consumers to determine preferences. There are many ways we can develop behavioral patterns. Different from online tools, but important in their own right.

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