How Behavioral Targeting Changes the Web

This is the summary of an article by Lauren Drell. Here is the link to the original article: 4 Ways Behavioral Targeting is Changing the Web.

We see behavioral targeting everyday as we browse the web, in Google Instant, Facebook targeted ads, etc. Targeting companies coordinate with website publishers so that as you browse online, you will receive a cookie that goes to your browser. The cookie will then collect data about your browsing behavior to measure your preferences and interests, allowing the targeting companies to supply you with ads about products that are based on your interests. A more expensive form of advertising indeed, but often the conversion rate will make up for the costs.

Browsing Online will be More About You

Since the days when Amazon used an algorithm successfully to make user experience very reliable, the algorithms used now are more complex and more capable of getting user data. The effects of data which are numerically distant from the rest of the data reduce as behavioral targeting algorithms in Amazon become more complicated.

Google Instant is a good example of where behavioral targeting will take us in the future. As this technology of Google is now more focused on the query of the user, the future search will know what you are looking for even before you finished typing the query. Jeff Hirsch, CEO and president of AudienceScience, even said that in 10 years, we will laugh as we recall having to type the query in Google search in the past. Future web experience will be faster and smarter. The internet is going in the same direction as radio and television, where we can now choose the programs we want to see or hear and when we want them.

Web Will be Highly Customized

We’re not yet capable of customizing the interface of the web based on our preferences because of the lack of resources and time, but many are saying we are surely getting there. Now we can customize the Google homepage by adding your preferred widgets and having various ads on your page, so it’s definitely possible that in the future, web pages will know how many ads you want in your page, for example. We can already do this with our technology, but there should be a balance and all the players involving this customization should be happy.

Web Knows You Have Various Interests

Targeting nowadays can result in tunnel vision, which means that when you visit the website with sports-related content, you will end up seeing ads from Adidas or Nike, etc. However, the future algorithms used for behavioral targeting will understand that you are a multi-dimensional individual with various interests, and will give them ads that are varied but are all relevant to your interests.

The insights and analytics manager from ContextWeb, Tanayia Washington, said that people are multi-dimensional and consume content in different contexts. The company, ContextWeb, targets depending on the content of a website, and interprets, for example, CNN, as not only a news market but also one about education, finance, retirement, among others.

Utilizing Social Networking Sites and Mobile Devices

Baby boomers are more concerned about their privacy online than the millenials. This generation grew up with LiveJournals and were the first to use Facebook, so they are more comfortable about sharing their lives through social networking sites. As they enter these sites, they send out a message to marketers and advertisers tha they are willing to participate, and they send out loads of information about themselves on these sites, which are used to produce highly targeted ads. This goes out to the experience of web browsing in mobile devices as well.

Behavioral targeting is not yet perfect. For example, if a desktop computer is shared by four members of a family, with each member having various interests, we won’t know who searched for what and establish individual interests. Still, the internet is getting smarter as millions of data are being collected everyday.


  1. […] What the internet allows is a company to exploit user interactions and transitions. Google and Facebook are the best at capturing and monitoring these transitions. They are able to exploit what their users like, whom they interact with, and how they shop and browse. The companies can identify behavioural-based marketing for their users.  In the physical world, these interactions were ignored. For the most part, they were ignored because they were so hard to capture. However, the algorithm and behavioural advertising and marketing mean they can be exploited. […]

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