Targeting ads at the edge, literally

“Take user number 12345, who was searching for cars yesterday, and show him a Porche ad. It doesn’t matter if he’s on Yahoo! or MySpace today — he’s the same number as yesterday. As an advertiser, would you prefer to reach someone reading a car review featured on Yahoo! or someone who visited two car-dealer sites yesterday?” #

Behavioral and demographic targeting is going to become increasingly important this year as marketers shift budgets away from blanket branding campaigns toward direct response marketing. Over the next few years advertisers plan to spend more on behavioral, search, geographic, and demographic targeting, in that order, according to Forrester. AdWeek has been following this trend: #

“According to the Forrester Research report, marketer moves into areas like word of mouth, blogging and social networking will withstand tightened budgets. In contrast, marketers are likely to decrease spending in traditional media and even online vehicles geared to building brand awareness.” #

We tried behavioral targeting campaigns back at InfoWorld.com with mild success using Tacoda. The main problem was traffic volume. Though performance was better than broad content-targeted campaigns, the target segments were too small to sell in meaningful ways. The idea of an open exchange for auctioning inventory might have helped, but at the time we had to sell what we called “laser targeting” in packages that started to look more like machine gun fire. #

“As it stands now, consumers don’t have much control over their information. Direct marketing firms routinely buy and sell personal data offline, and online, ad networks, search engines and advertisers collect reams of information such as purchasing behavior and Web usage. Google, for instance, keeps consumers’ search histories for up to two years, not allowing them the option of erasing it. #

Though a person is only identified as a number in edge targeting, that number is showing very specific intent. That intent, if profiled properly, is significantly more accurate than a single search query at a search engine. #