What’s Wrong with Behavioral Targeting

Okay, I have discussed event-based marketing and behavioral targeting before and I probably come across negatively.  When behavioral targeting came out online it was the next best thing.  Hot stuff.  But now the reality of this costly, unproductive capability shows its plainness.  For me, its just a disappointment.

Behavioral targeting is event-based.  A site is pixeled so that when a visitor lands on certain pages, they receive a cookie.  Those cookies are indicative of the events signified by whatever content exists on those pages.

Make a note here.  The cookies are third-party cookies, set by a third-party provider such as DoubleClick’s Boomerang, Tacoda or Advertising.com.  We’ll come back to this.

When an individual is out on the web or on a network like Tacoda or Advertising.com, and it is time to show them an ad, the ad server looks for the cookie that was set during the event-based pixel process.  If there is a cookie, then an ad is displayed that would be considered relevant to the event. 

But is this really behavioral targeting?  All we know is that a user was on a certain page.  If the page is one of a sequence than we can assume some behavior such as a purchase, but we do not know anything about this individual.  They are entirely anonymous.  We do not know buying habits, demographics, customer segment, psychographics.  We do not know behavior.  All we know is an event occured.

Back to the cookie.  I have mentioned before that Jupiter says that over 40% of the third-party cookies get deeted by adware and anti-spyware software each month.  That means that event-based behavioral targeting will only be 60% effective.  When you evaluate the incremental cost, the ROI is usually not there.

So what’s wrong with Behavioral Targeting?  It’s not behavioral it’s event-based targeting.

The technology for behavioral targeting exists.  It will just to have a different name since this one was already abused.

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