Behavioral Targeting: Find What I Want, Not Where I Am

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In the context of Behavioral Advertising, “find what I want, not where I am” means online advertising targets a user based on his or her behavior, not the website or blog they happen to be browsing at the moment the ad is served. For example, instead of only serving an ad for car insurance on an insurance comparison blog, behavioral targeting allows you to understand when someone is preparing to purchase a vehicle, based on her behavior online, and serve your auto insurance ad accordingly.

Behavioral Targeting Leads to Better ROI

Online advertising trends suggest that behavioral data will lead to better ROI and performance for advertisers. Here at, part of our 2017 strategy is to continue growing our use of behavioral targeting by layering it onto even more of our ad products.

Notify me when behavioral targeting is ready for all advertisers.

In the online advertising world, it is common knowledge that the more personalized the content is to the consumer viewing it, the stronger the engagement will be.

Impacts of Behavioral Targeting

Recent research is unveiling incredibly powerful information about what happens in the mind of a user when they experience advertising that is targeted to them based on their behavior. In the Journal of Consumer Research, OSU researchers found that “a behaviorally targeted ad can act as a social label even when it contains no explicit labeling information.” In these instances, a consumer recognizes that the advertiser has made an assumption about their identity and, if plausible based on their behavior, users will make adjustments to their self-perceptions to match the suggested label. It is these self-perceptions that “then impact behavior including purchase intentions for the advertised product.” The trick will be to create these meaningful interactions based on behavior while maintaining trust from the consumer – getting too personal (i.e. using first names) can quickly become a turn off.

Behavioral Targeting Doesn’t Work Without a Great Offer

In our tests of behavioral targeting, we found a highly significant improvement based on the relevance of the offer itself. It wasn’t enough to be in the right place at the right time. One of the most important things we learned on our tests of behavioral targeting for online advertisers was that the offer matters. We tested behavioral targeting with three skincare advertisers. The first beta did not return the kind of results we expected, while the other two far surpassed ROI predictions. In examining the details, we realized it wasn’t enough to be in the right place at the right time. Advertisers using behavioral targeting must also present the right offer.

Coming up with the right offer is important and can be done a few different ways. First, develop your loyalty program. A wealth of personalized data can be gained by enrolling customers and serving them content and offers unique to their own behaviors from previous visits. Second, avoid the temptation to upsell or cross-sell too soon. You’re more likely to annoy a purchaser with add-ons at the time of purchase if it’s too soon. Lastly, embrace marketing automation. Forbes suggests using automated personalization to present consumers with appropriate and relevant offers. “Advanced predictive models can dynamically serve content and offers based on a user’s current and past online behavior.” You definitely want this type of personalization in your arsenal.

Notify me when behavioral targeting is ready for all advertisers.

Is Behavioral Targeting Creepy?

While the reasons to jump right into personalized online advertising are plenty, advertisers and publishers remain aware of the delicate balance between providing a great experience and coming off creepy. Consumers are wary about how their personal information is collected and used. In other words, it can get make people feel uncomfortable to be targeted too personally. However, by maintaining privacy and trust, and by creating meaningful consumer engagement through relevant offers that resonate with your users, you can hit that sweet spot and watch your ROI climb.


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