This is the summary of an article by Rob O’Regan, which talks about the ultimate question for choosing the right behavioral ad partner being “What do their customers say about them?” Vendors try to differentiate their offerings in terms of the following main categories: segmentation, technology, and pricing/payments. At the end of the day, the best way is to communicate with customers regarding what they think of the vendors, and not rely on testimonials. Here’s the link to the original behavioral targeting article: Choosing a Behavioral Ad Paratner: the Ultimate Question.
As publishers look for the right behavioral targeting solution for increasing their revenues, they should focus on the customer evaluations of the ad networks they intend to choose from. This is because it’s quite difficult to tell apart the offerings of each on your own.
Most behavioral targeting vendors are quite similar in what they offer to the large ad networks, ValueClick, Google, Yahoo and AOL, but to a smaller scale. But they differ in the following categories:
Using search and browsing behavior, demographics, geography, shopping history, and advertisement interactions, behavioral targeting vendors create categories in which to segment users based on what products or services are favorable to them.
Aside from this, offline data can also be used through collective research, and such Internet giants as Google and Microsoft rely on data from email accounts and other service subscriptions to minimize the user of cookies for tracking user online behavior.
Users are grouped into categories that are further divided into two: interest and intent. Interest includes tech, entertainment, health, shopping and automotive, while intent refers to whether the user is ready to purchase or not, or whether the user is just doing some research, among others.
Vendors woo publishers by basically saying that their segmentation is better, and as such, users will be categorized more accurately and receive ads that they are more likely to respond to. The right advertisements will be sent to the right audience at the right time.
Privacy has always been a primary concern with regards to behavioral targeting, and so all vendors claim that they are not using PII or personally identifiable information for their segmentation techniques. Even so, publishers must thoroughly check the privacy policies of each vendor, just to be sure everything is at par with the regulations set by the FTC.
Finally, Google introduces a consumer friendly method called “interest-based advertising” wherein users themselves have control over the interest categories related to their browsing behavior.
All vendors claim that the technology they are using for providing behaviorally targeted ads are up to date and better than those of their competitors’. These technologies involve computer algorithms that are highly technical for most people, so publishers should be a little bit skeptical for claims of better ad matching.
Payments are not so much of a selling point these days because behavioral targeting is rapidly turning into a commodity enterprise. Ad networks, on the other hand, will introduce their superior models that allow you to have good CPM rates.
These categories are very important for publishers as they choose which ad network to choose. However, since these vendors aren’t too different from each other, the real question is whether you trust that vendor or not, especially since behavioral targeting is quite a sensitive technique because of its privacy implications.
Reading testimonials posted at the websites of these vendors will help you truly decide what to use. It also helps to personally talk to customers if you can. These insights will help you see the service from more angles and help you evaluate the customer support that these vendors provide.