Behavioral Targeting Standards – RIP BT 1.0


At last Monday’s OMMA Behavioral event sponsor Revenue Science launched the day by declaring the need for industry self preservation, err, regulation with the establishment of the Revenue Science Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortium. Actually, it’s officially just called the Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortium though there is no consortium yet and the group’s domain is owned by Revenue Science.

What is this? Simply, it is the creation of segment standardization for media buyers. This is not the first time BT standards have been tried. Tacoda played this hand way back in 2004. The idea behind behavioral standardization or more specifically standardized segments is that if BT was just easier for advertisers and agencies to understand more money would roll into BT. In other words it’s not the performance, inventory or CPMs that are holding back critical mass for Behavioral Targeting, it’s the fact that marketers are just not smart enough to “get it.”

These ideas are wrong, self-serving and incredibly short sighted. I know because I’ve been creating segmented marketing campaigns for the past decade. Success is predicated on understanding the unique objectives of the campaign and finding the audience where those objectives are most relevant. This requires customization in the segmentation and creative strategies as well as constant measurement, testing and optimization. This doesn’t even take into account affinity discovery and results, both of which can be incredibly counterintuitive.

For further proof that standardization is the wrong path one only needs to look at the next-wave of emergent technologies in targeting. Highly customizable factors are at their core.

• Semantically aware networks
• Intention based networks
• Rules based content delivery platforms
• Intelligence aggregators
• Tools for mass customizable creative
• Google gadgets

What is clear is that new solutions offer better results to advertisers, publishers and deliver more relevance in more parts of the web to more consumers.

This is not lost on the likes of Revenue Science. Their model of capturing behavior and targeting consumers was special in 2004 but seems antiquated today. While their relationships with agencies and publishers run deep there is just too much forward progress in this area among a host of companies that have Series A or B and an insane focus on improving this space. In the end it will not be about the promise of a technology, relationships or how you define “behavioral,” it will be about performance.

So what better time to declare the death of Behavioral Targeting 1.0 and usher in a new era for BT where segments are easy to create, easier to buy and well worth the cost. The irony is that this will not take place with standardization but with customization. Long live targeting!



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4 responses to “Behavioral Targeting Standards – RIP BT 1.0”

  1. Martin Hudon Avatar

    Couldn’t agree more with you Jonathan.
    Standards will go in the opposite direction of the needs for more flexibility in segmentation and targeting.
    These new marketing plateforms require ever more flexibility to achievement relevance and performance.


  2. KP Avatar

    Your contact e-mail on the “about” page doesn’t work:(
    jmendez at
    I tried to send you an e-mail and it bounced.


  3. Jonathan Mendez Avatar

    Thanks KP – fixed that!


  4. Karan Kapoor Avatar
    Karan Kapoor

    Considering that this post was originally written over two yrs ago I presume its point is irrelevant in today’s day and age of an advertiser having to possibly do various forms of BT – such as Onsite or network based. It is inconceivable that time and money should be spent on reconciling segment definitions from various data sources onto the advertiser’s own segmentation taxonomy. I guess we would all benefit with a taxonomy/ontology based approach to dealing with segments to that valuable time could be spent on other more important issues in lifting the campaign ROI. Just my 2p of course


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