This is the summary of a blog article from level434.com. It introduces the concept of behavioral targeting, addresses several misconceptions regarding how user data is being used, privacy concerns, how its not only for ads, and its psychological aspects. Here’s the link to the original behavioral targeting article: Behavioral Targeting, Conversion Psychology, Content Personalization, and Privacy: How To Get The Right Message To The Right People at the Right Time Without Being Creepy.
Collecting data from customers has always been done by marketers even before the internet, but with the Internet, the means of collecting personal data have become much more vast and intricate. Not only do we share personal information through online forms, our online behavior is also being tracked in the background while we are busy doing something else.
The fact that we are so connected online, and new advancements in technology and devices have made targeting to grow rapidly. Now we see ads about stuff we searched for and are interested in, in websites that are not related to the context of the website we are currently in.
Marketers should now dream about behavioral targeting, the ability to understand the behavior of a user and his or her present interests, and showing a very relevant ad to that user. Human psychology combines with user history for a highly engaging user, increasing conversion rates as a result.
A huge database records your online browsing and purchase behavior, and these data will be used by Google, and other companies, to serve targeted online ads. Marketers find this as the best ad personalization technique.
Furthermore, so that advertisers will understand behavioral targeting better, a consortium is organized to teach the industry and to create standards for behavioral targeting, ensuring maximum benefits for publishers and marketers. Included in the standardization aimed by the consortium is to establish what kind of behavioral data use is acceptable.
Indeed, marketers should responsibly use the data they have collected. Concerns such as user privacy must be kept in mind, even as behavioral targeting is definitely good for consumers. In particular, the experience is simply better for the consumer, and he or she won’t have to face ads that are just wasting his or her time.
How Behavioral Targeting Works
An advertising company places a cookie on a certain user’s browser, which records that user’s activity in a certain website in particular and over various websites in general. Specifically, a cookie may record which web pages that user has visited in a certain website, and then classifies the content of those pages.
As the user proceeds to other sites, the cookie will have stored enough data to know what that user’s interests are as of the moment, and as such that user will receive relevant ads in various forms; banner ads, text ads, and even video ads.
It is quite obvious that both users and advertisers will benefit from behavioral targeting. Both parties win, but the question of privacy invasion lurks. Users should not worry, so long as personally identifiable information (PII) is not collected. These kinds of information include locations and names, etc.
Furthermore, if users are really worried, most popular browsers let users delete cookies or reject them altogether. Cookies may be odious to some users, but the important thing is for them to know that only non-PII information is collected, and these data are being used positively to show relevant ads. The advertising industry needs transparency and user education with regards to behavioral targeting.
Behavioral Targeting is not only for Ads
Behavioral targeting right now is mostly used for advertising, but recently, publishers have found that this technique can be very useful and effective for content personalization as well. Optimized and personal content can now be delivered to users in the same manner that behavioral targeting is used to provide targeted ads.
For example, a user may read about the latest about a certain topic he or she is interested in. After reading though, he finds that there are a few more links that are related to the currently read article, and not only that, also related to the articles that he has read in other pages of the site.
For first comers to a particular site, users may see links that are contextually related only to the current article they are in. Also, in a certain webpage both content personalization and ad personalization may come into play, and a certain user will be able to see ads on the side bar of a given page which may be contextually unrelated to the post, but are relevant to the interests of that user based on his or her browsing behavior.