So Tom Hespos – who’s writing I enjoy – has contributed an article in iMediaconnection on why using an ad server to re-target customers can be more effective than say a TACODA or Advertising.com. Tom’s been reading my blog (and I read his) and has been paying attention to the idea that there is a better way to recognize, distinguish and message to a known audience of users online than to use event-based targeting. Like me, I don’t think Tom is discrediting the network targeting model but rather differentiating the idea of customer re-targeting from prospect behavioral targeting.
Tom discussed in his Re-Targeting, There’s More Than 1 Tactic “Prior site visitors can be bucketed according to what they’ve done (or haven’t done, for that matter) on an advertiser’s website. Now it’s easy to distinguish between the casual visitor, loyal purchaser and occasional buyer, using some simple logic rules.” But his example of choice is DoubleClick. I am all for DC’s Boomerang technology and think it is great for event-based targeting. But again it is not leveraging customer knowledge.
“The ad server allows for segmentation based on which action tags have fired.” Tom is suggesting that the tactic to use is an ad serving solution that relies on pixels placed on web pages that fire when someone lands on certain pages and cookies that user to associate them with that event.
This methodology is very effective, don’t get me wrong. It is a proven tactic for getting a message in front of someone who is going to be better positioned to receive that message based on events that correlate to that message. But it has little to do with what you know about that user as a customer. If the pages viewed are customer-specific (i.e., within a purchasing environment) than yes you have cookied them as customers. But what about customer attributes in your CRM system?
You could go one step further … Tom doesn’t talk about this – but of course he was limited to 700 words – but you can share customer profiles with DC and have them correlate customized cookies for you. Most people don’t but you can. DC can write cookies to your customer’s browser so that they can actually recognize someone and re-target them based on attributes you have defined but they are static.
So you can say, anyone who lands on thank you page A will get cookie A, and that is high value customer. Anyone who lands on landing page B will get cookie B, and that is frequent shopper. And so on. So there is more than 1 tactic. Tom is right.
But there are limitations. First of all, you are limited to targeting based on a third party cookie. This is actually a HUGE limitation. Jupiter Research said in 2006 that over 43% of third party cookies get deleted within 30 days by either anit-spyware, adware or browser settings. So less than 60% of the customers will never get re-targeted using the DC cookie. If it were a first party cookie – the advertiser’s cookie – it would persist far more frequently as it would not be on the blacklists of the anti-spyware companies and would pass the browser blocking settings.
Secondly, a using a DC setup like Tom has suggested means that any data written to the cookie through the ad serving process is maintained by DC. So all the ads displayed and site combinations are reported by DC. Access to the data is gate-kept by DC. This is a re-targeting only process.
With first party ad serving – DirectServe alternative – all of the ad serving data passes through back to the advertiser. The ad server can not gate-keep the acquisition marketing data and prevent the advertiser from controlling their own data. Gaining an understanding of how someone becomes a lead or customer or how an existing customer returns is part of the re-targeting program. The event-based tactic that Tom talks about in his article is not possible, or not made available I should say by DC. Food for thought, who controls or who owns your data when you work with DoubleClick?
So I agree with Tom, there is more than 1 tactic out there. You can use TACODA, Advertising.com Dotomi and others for event-based prospecting. You can use DoubleClick Boomerang for customer re-targeting which is also still event-based. You can even step it up and have custom data written into the cookie. But as Tom suggested, get strategic, “…you might want to look at other actions that can define the ways in which a site visitor can interact with your brand.” If you have customer knowledge stored in a database (CRM), leverage it. If you are writing cookies based on customer behaviors than target it with first party ad serving. If you are using site analytic software to track site-side behavior, use a first party cookie so that you can integrate the anonymous behavioral patterns with your CRM profiles. Then you can integrate your ad serving data too. Check out Web Analytics and Ad Serving – Proto-Analytics for 2007 for more on that topic.
Anyway, there is more than one way to skin a cat. But first figure out what you want to end up with when it’s skinned. Re-targeting opens up doors for you to do a great deal. You can offer existing customers opportunities to continue to do business with you based on recent activities (event-based behavior) or you can communicate to them based on a more complex model (CRM profiles). You can learn from how them respond to re-targeting by integrating ad serving data with site-side analytics (first party cookies) and you can develop CRM profiles based on first party cookie data to enhance customer segments for future ad serving targeting (DirectServe). The cycle opportunities are significant. It all depends on how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole!
Reactionary with Insight.
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