Over the last year I’ve become immersed in the world of Behavioral Targeting (or BT as insiders refer to it). Of course, in many respects I’ve been doing BT for a long time. The key components that make up the qualitative and quantitative aspects of BT; segmentation, targeted creative, testing, and analytics are all built into email marketing & paid search advertising. However, the growth of technology over the last few years to collect intentions, actions and affinities for the delivery of targeted content has taken BT to another level. It has manifested itself so that on almost every optimization we perform at OTTO Digital we are creating or using profile and segment data for targeting.
Still, as was evident at last Tuesday’s Behavioral Marketing Forum the Behavioral Targeting world is ill defined and my world is not thought of by many as BT. I’ve written about this before but it came to the fore at the event when one participant mentioned to me “99% of the people here think BT only means Tacoda and Revenue Science.” There was a notable exception.
Emily Riley of Jupiter Research in her presentation on the state of BT said that Search has a huge part in future of BT. I’m not sure how much impact this made (and it should since Emily comes from the display world). My presentation below was the only one that showed examples of BT from search and while Emily did mention Yahoo’s cross-targeting I believe I was the only person that mentioned Google all day.
So what is BT? I like this definition at the event from Carrie Frolich, digital practice lead, Mediaedge:cia: “Behavioral targeting is any method of targeting a consumer after they’ve taken any kind of measurable action.”
It’s important to remember that Search has a larger share of ad spend than display and that SEMs already work in a segmented and targeted field. I’ve called for SEMs to move forward as marketers and embrace BT strategies. Two other big names in search Gord Hotchkiss and Todd Friesen joined this chorus last week. This is a serious dialog. Gord is not overstating when he says that the survival of search marketers is dependant on changing the strategic paradigm. BT is the place where this needs to take place.
The growth of the semantic web or web 3.0 will make cross-experience optimization an everyday feature of the web. In fact, it may be more than a feature of the web. It may be the very platform. Those marketers and agencies that know how to use the platform will be the winners. I don’t think these winners will come from a display background. Though display will have a key part in the holistic marketing conversation BT reaps its greatest rewards to intention, action or affinity.
However, site marketers (especially publishers) and search marketers are way behind the technology. This disconnect is already being exploited. In addition to Google and Yahoo’s moves into BT, Microsoft just announced that it has researched using landing page behavior to deliver suggested keyword refinement. Need I remind any SEM Agency (or other Digital Agency for that matter) that Google and Microsoft have recently purchased large agencies and that Yahoo has a large and growing internal Agency division?
So now is the time for Site Marketers and SEMs to catch-up and lay a claim to BT. SES San Jose will have its first SES session on Personalization, User Data & Search. I expect that it should be one of the more interesting sessions of the event (and not just because I will be on it). At eTail 2007 OTTO Digital client Fingerhut will be speaking on Personalization. It will be interesting to compare the dialog from these search and site side events with the iMedia BT event from last week.
At the end of the day what’s really needed is to turn all this talk into action. Since the rate of innovation will not cease the rate of strategy and execution must gain velocity. There were too many businesses left holding the bag for three years while Paid Search was easy ROI. That missed opportunity by many should be a lesson for all marketers in regards to Behavioral Targeting.