Want to Start a Behavioral Targeting Network? Here’s One Way

As I sit on a plane tonight, I look around and think to myself about all of the people with me.  I think about the things they are doing to occupy themselves and the places that they will go after the plane arrives.  I am not the first person to ponder these questions while in this situation, I know, but I am still asking them in my head while I am here. 


Some of these people will get on another plane – and I’m not concerned with them.  They have a longer night ahead of them than I do.  Sorry for them.  But others will head home or to some other venue and, eventually, whenever, will find themselves to a computer.  That’s who I am always the most interested in. 


But how many of the people on this plane are thinking about the things they need to get done when they get off of this plane.  Who is still “engaged?”  Probably a few.  How many of them are thinking about the emails they didn’t get to before they left.  The unfinished business.  More than a few of them if they’re anything like me.  Those are the people that have time left to log after this plane arrives.  Those are the business-minded people that are still mentally engaged and a 6pm flight out of Denver to anywhere is full of people who have been working all day.


And then there are the rest of the people onboard.  The disengaged business people who have unplugged while they are on a flight.  Go-figure.  They read a book, look at the SkyMall magazine, watch a movie on their laptop or take a nap.  I can’t relate.  Well, I do like the SkyMall magazine!  And of course then there is the “vacationer” if you will.  This individual is off to visit someone or someplace and is far less stressed by something that needs to get done en route than they were about what to pack for the trip.


I’ve just described at least 3 distinct, different personality types among probably 20 more categorical behavioral types all sharing the same recycled air on board this cramped Boeing 777. 


These 3 types of people are behaviorally predictable as well.  The engaged business person will whip-out the laptop and keep going.  She will write emails that will go out later.  She will read articles that were downloaded in preparation for the flight.  And she will work on the old PowerPoint deck.  Meanwhile, the disengaged business person and vacationer will look to be entertained or relax to pass the time.


Side-note:


There is nothing worse than sitting on a plane, and looking over that guy’s shoulder and figuring out who he’s pitching to in the morning based on his slide deck.  As the head of a sales team it curdles the food in my belly to think that someone I manage could be out there exposing my company that way.


So here’s a hint: leave the names of your “clients” or “prospects” off of your PowerPoint decks while you work on them when you are on a plane.  Nobody should be seeing your projections, pitches and deal-points in conjunction with the companies you are intending on working with, or with whom you are already working with while you are onboard a flight.  If you can work on a blank slide too, without your branded template that’s even better.  Don’t let people see who YOU are either.  Anonymous flying is safe when you’re doing your business.  SO many people act like they are sitting at their desk while they work on their presentations on a flight, never figuring that a competitor, partner or other industry-player is sitting next to or behind them.  Think people.


Back to this flight.  United Airlines plays it’s “made for in-flight” programming, which includes paid-for commercials.  And it is obvious how these three behavioral types get targeted on the plane too.  Each commercial is looking to reach one of the groups I’ve described.  They have tried to catch the business person who was still “in business mode” with business-level frequent-flyer messages that highlight loyalty benefits; and they showed some technology-related ads that could be useful to a frequent business traveler.  If she was listening in, they were on-message with her state of mind. 


The ‘checked-out’ passenger – who could be engaged with the things that might matter later, when they returned to home or work – might have liked the information on great business venues in multiple cities. 


And then there were the ads for the vacationer; destination ads, vacation ads, ads about products, etc. 


Each of the three segments is being targeted on board this two and half hour flight.  But there was nothing people can do with these messages in the moment.  It’s worse than sitting in front of a TV at home.  There is an inability to take action when you are on a plane.  Nobody is writing down the information they see in an ad on a plane?  An awareness campaign has to wear off by the time the flight lands.  At least that’s my perspective. Although the behaviors are targeted, the results are really not going to amount to much.  In the end, it’s just paid advert-ainment if you ask me.


So what about the business person who has time left to log when he gets to his destination?  Will he catch-up on the events of his day, finish the emails and just get out of there?


For a lot of us, we have to get online and check our email through a web-app (or maybe a VPN) if we’re not at home.  We need to go check what happened with the market.  We need to read a few key trade sites to make sure we know what happened during the day and see what people like Tom Hespos or Brad Berens had to say.  And we need to basically unwind with some online time.  J


What’s my point of all of this?  Let’s think about the business traveler, engaged and disengaged, once they get to their destination.


Think about the value that there is in knowing that someone has just undergone this huge experience?  How do you capture the fact that someone has just visited at least two airports, sat on a plane, breathed re-circulated air, dealt with delays, cabs, parking lots, traffic jams, deadlines, hotels and the pressures and annoyances of travel?  Anyone of those experiences can be used for behavioral targeting over the next 12 to 24 hours with a HUGE possibility of advertisements.  Knowledge of a person’s travel itinerary opens the door to targeting capabilities like nothing you could ever imagine.


This is an idea that I have had while sitting on a plane, so if you want to do this, call me and we’ll make this happen together.  Essentially, a travel site can become its own behavioral targeting network.  And it would be worth a lot of money to an advertiser.


Follow me closely.


DoubleClick sells behavioral targeting based on the DC cookie.  Over time they have written their cookie on browser across the web, tracked people’s behavior and used categorized browsers based on the sites they visit for targeting.  This is third party ad serving targeting.  Atlas does it pretty well too.  If DC or Atlas encountered someone on the web who has their cookie already, they can interpret the classification of that cookie and target the user with the best-fit advertiser and campaign.


Okay, TruEffect is a first party ad server, with the patent-pending DirectServe™ right?  Under this technology, TruEffect can serve ads out of any domain and can write cookies under any domain name.  So whereas, DC can read and write the DC cookie, TruEffect can read and write any advertiser’s cookie.  The benefit is that when an advertiser is writing their own cookie, TruEffect can target their cookie with ads anywhere on the web.  With DC, DC has to have written the cookie in order to target it.


Now, let’s take a travel site, like Expedia for example who can write their own first party cookies to a user’s browser at the time that they buy their trip.  That cookie can correlate to an anonymous segmentation scheme such as trip type, destination, travel date, presumption of business travel or pleasure, etc.  With travelers tagged, they can now go off onto the internet to be later recognized and targeted by an ad server that can read that travel site’s cookie.  TruEffect’s DirectServe™ is able to do that.


Any advertiser that would be interested in targeting someone that fits an Expedia profile user on the Web, could use DirectServe™ to manage their campaign while advertising online.  They might not always encounter a business traveler, but when they do they will be able to target that user based on the information written to the cookie.


But how would an advertiser gain access to Expedia’s anonymous customer profiles?  If Expedia were to launch their own “behavioral network” they would basically enable an advertiser to reach any user anywhere on the web who matched an Expedia profile.   Advertiser’s could pay Expedia a stipend target travelers while advertising online.  Say United Airlines wanted to advertise on Expedia’s Web site.  For a premium, Expedia could sell UAL the ability to target Expedia customers everywhere on the Web behaviorally according to buying profiles.  Expedia could sell the advertising on its own site and sell the ad serving to UAL across the web at the same time.  Using TruEffect’s DirectServe™, UAL could target Expedia customers all across the Internet behaviorally in addition to on the Expedia site.


Any travel site could do this.  Any transactional site could do this too.  Advertisers could do it too.  So sticking with the UAL model, when someone buys a ticket on UAL.com, UAL could sell the ability to target those individuals to advertise online across the web.  When they sell those in-flight video placements, they could also sell online ad serving capabilities that would target those passengers for when they get off the plane and next logon to a computer.  Anonymous passenger profile segments could be recognized across the web and targeted with suitable products and promotions.  If you sell advertising, and you sell B2C like the two examples I’ve just provided, you could build your own behavioral targeting network that could rival the value of some of the large more generic networks based on the customer segment behavior of your users. 


Again, think about how valuable it would be to an advertiser to be able to target someone who just got off of a plane within the last 24 hours.

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