How Do They Know You Want Doggy Toothpaste? (Behavioral Targeting in Ads)

March 30th, 2010

dogAre you ever on a webpage, and out of the corner of your eye you notice an ad that seems to be custom made for you? You might be on a website that shares great recipes, but the ad is for toothpaste for dogs. Toothpaste for dogs may be strange enough in its own right, but what really intrigues you is that you were just searching for some doggy toothpaste the other day. How do they know you’re interested in toothpaste for dogs?

The answer is behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting is simply a method of customizing the content of ads shown to you, based on your past behavior online. The advertiser knows you’re interested in canine dental cleanliness because you searched on one of their network’s sites for ‘toothpaste for dogs’…

The advertiser keeps track of this and uses it to provide you with ads that you will find more relevant and useful. The upside for you is that ads become an actual useful tool for improving your quality of life. If you’re going to see an ad anyway, why not make it useful to you and your unique likes and dislikes?

As marketers, what excites us about behavioral targeting in advertising is that it is much more effective than standard display advertising. A recent study by the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), and reported by eMarketer tells the story:

The study, which looked at ads run on member networks during 2009, showed that among users who clicked on a behaviorally targeted ad, 6.8% converted. That compared with only 2.8% of those who clicked on a run-of-network ad.

Behaviorally targeted ads are more than twice as effective! And they’re effective simply because they are simply more useful, thus more compelling, to the users.

So go ahead and buy that doggy toothpaste! That ad you see could be custom-tailored for you!

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