Create and Satisfy Demand: Two Tools to Complete the Marketing Loop Plus the Advertising Equation

Today Steve Mulder gave us “Create and Satisfy Demand: Two Tools to Complete the Marketing Loop,”, an academic piece in iMediaConnection that well-defines the fundamentals between demographic segmentation and behavioral targeting or what he referred to as “goal targeting.”


Steve talks about customer segmentation based on demographic and psychographic profiling.  Of course you can push this farther and consider buying habits, product preferences and other known store-interaction behaviors which can be categorized.  Anything you know about your customers can be grouped and segmented.  So while Steve talks about the anonymous segments, when we’re talking about customers we can dive deeper and look at the information that our eCRM systems can capture and that our site-side analytics can measure.  If I have a customer who purchases monthly, like electronics (i.e., Target.com) and spends on average over $100 per transaction, I can drop that user in a bucket with other like-demographic customers.  The segmentation possibilities go much deeper.


This is not to suggest paralysis of analysis by creating too many segments, however if you are a Target.com, a BestBuy or other big box retailer, you have many, many customers and you have the ability to create 10-20-30 customer segment groups.  If you are an e-tailor like LLBean, or Amazon or Overstock.com, you can create these segments.


Steve talks about Personas, as a defined “who or what,” meaning “…Why does this product or service make sense to your target audience? Why do the people represented in this audience need it, and why will they use it? How should we structure and design it to satisfy how people will be using it? How do we make sure the site gives people the experience they need and the business results we need?” 


In Steve’s discussion, Personas are the other side of the equation, the behaviors that you target or goals.  This article focuses on web site content placement which is vital to the emarketing equation.  How you react to your customers when they are identified on your site will directly correlate to your recurring revenue potential.  I have discussed the integration of CMS and dynamic content many times before.


When someone logs-on an identifies themselves, you tap into eCRM and you can tap into the segment relationship and/or bucket that user belongs to.  They you can target them with content and messages to promote recurring revenue opportunities.


External marketing, such as email marketing can tap into these buckets as well with customer segment targeting as well.


But a topic we have talked about many times before is how you can recognize and target someone BEFORE they come to your site and identify themselves.  Well, what about when they come to your site and don’t login.  Using cookies enables you to recognize someone and still tap into your customer segment models right?  So you don’t have to wait until they login to identify them.


That takes care of returning customers.  What about someone who blows out their cookie?  Well, as soon as they login you can re-recognize them and re-cookie them right?  Cool.


What about someone new?  They click on an ad and come to your site, you grab the click-thru URL and interpret the source and put that into the cookie as a prospect and let CMS take over until they create an account.  Cool.  Once they become a customer, segment membership begins and more data can be written to the cookie for future recognition and content targeting – more CMS.  CMS is Content Management System btw.


Then there is the external recognition of your customers – what about the topic of choice with regard to advertising.  If you are spending time creating customer segments and you are spending time creating goals for CMS targeting.  Why wouldn’t you leverage that knowledge to benefit from being able to recognize your customers when you advertise online as well?  If you can recognize your customers while you advertise online, you can extend your goal-oriented messages, drive recurring revenue opportunities and motivate your customers to return.  When they do, your site-side BT efforts can take over as Steve discusses and your drive home those sales opportunities.


With both of these efforts in place.  Taking the time to create and analyze your customers to create segments and creating targeting goals that affect both internal, site-side and external, advertising-side efforts you will gain huge insight into what works.  The knowledge gained will improve your ability to make better decisions about your future marketing efforts, both site-side and external.


Reactionary with Insight

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Behavioral Targeting, What Ethics?

Earlier this month, Doug Wintz gave us an inspiring article in iMediaConnection.  The Ethics of Behavioral Targeting offers a glimpse into what behavioral targeting could be like in the offline future.  Transfixing our imaginations into the likeness of the futuristic worlds painted by author Philip Dick, Wintz helps us to question interactive advertising beyond the banner.  But there is a big leap between the 728×90 banner and the beams of light that could be reading our retina in the shopping malls. 


Several years ago people screamed about the use of cookies: “VIOLATION OF PERSONAL PRIVACY!”  The industry cried that we must educate the population so that they realize that cookies are not bad, spyware is bad.  Antispyware came out, and adware came out.  People now feel protected from persistent spyware and third-party cookies now get deleted 45% of the time.  The dust cleared from the cookie fight and yet cookies are still in common practice.  The funny part is that people still don’t understand cookies.  But the industry has moved on; it has stopped trying to educate and now the next crisis has moved to the forefront – behavioral targeting.


BT still involves the use of cookies but the technology is less of the issue.  It is the overall concept of tracking and oversight that people care about.  Once again there are those in the industry that are trying to educate, but then there are many of us that know that you can’t educate people coming from a position of fear.  Moreover, once politicians get involved it’s about swaying popular opinion and not about providing rational explanations.  Remember that some people get charged by the fight while others stay in the background, continuing to develop and position their cards so that they are ready when the dust clears.  A new crisis always moves to the forefront to replace the existing one, right?  Where will you be when that happens?  Battle scared or primed?


Is it ethical to behaviorally target?  Is the internet really free?  Is it ethical to target consumer behaviors like catalogers do?  Doug has a fair argument when he says we probably won’t even care by the time the technology is mainstream.  Right now there is kickback on behavioral targeting, but that doesn’t stop publishers and networks from offering it or from advertisers from buying it.


So where are the ethical lines in all of this?  Publishers use site-side analytics to track your patterned behavior while you are on their site.  It is their site.  You use much of it for free.  So is it ethical?  Is it okay for Safeway or Kroger to track your shopping habits in the supermarket?  You get discounts for using that shopper’s card that also tracks your behavior.  What about Amazon keeping track of your book-buying preferences?  You get recommendations right?  You get benefits in return for providing information about yourself, even online.  So where is the difference between what we have come to accept offline and what we protest online?


Why do people get so crazy about the web?  The point of the whole thing is to put advertisements that are more relevant in front of you.  Contextual advertising has done a great job at this and nobody seems to complain about that.  In fact a lot of people don’t even know that the links along the side of the Google and Yahoo pages are paid listings, nor would they necessarily care since they are usually relevant links that often lead to qualified destinations.  Relevance.  If Behavioral targeting has the ability to present a user with advertisements that are relevant, is there still an ethical violation? 


P-ersonal I-dentifiable I-nformation (PII) is the red line that can’t be crossed and yet it is crossed all the time in the offline realm.  I think that in the end it’s not a question of ethics.  It’s a question of fear.  The futuristic movies like the Minority Report scare people.  They don’t get it and other people take advantage of it to promote their own agendas (like politicians looking for platforms).


 Customer re-targeting introduces the ability to recognize customers – not anonymous individuals – anywhere on the web in real-time using first party ad serving.  Advertisers can recognize their existing customers, not based on events but based on customer profiles.  This is identical to what already goes on in the offline world.  A different message can be positioned to a customer than to a non-customer based on customer profiles – not based on event-based behaviors.  Is this a violation of privacy?  We can go around and around on this one, like we did with the cookie.  And it is the cookie battle that leads me to believe that the smoke will clear before we settle it.  When the next technical invasion comes to the forefront it too will shadow this one.  Maybe it’ll be iTV, which will be more invasive and wider-spread when it hits people while they are relaxing in their living rooms! 


You can go down the ethical rabbit hole if you want with behavioral targeting, just like you can jump into the political debate or stand up on the soap box and try to educate.  But frankly, people will continue to develop and drive forward with anonymous event-based targeting, customer re-targeting, site-side analytics and first party applications that empower advertisers to message to users with the most relevant information, advertisements and content.  Operating as if the dust will clear as oppose to getting caught up in the fight makes more sense.  Helping the web to become an increasingly more efficient use of people’s time with behavioral targeting techniques is not a violation of privacy, it is a provision of relevance.


Reactionary with Insight

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How to Conquer an Inventory Crisis Lacks Advice

Eric Porres is a partner with Underscore Marketing and he wrote a 6-page In-Focus piece in iMediaConnection today about behavioral targeting entitled: “ How to Conquer an Inventory Crisis.”  Eric is a media guy and he knows the space pretty well, moreover he is a BT guy and has made some contributions to the industry on the topic in the past.  But this time around where you would hope for some meaty substance and take-away advice, Eric comes up a bit short.


He does a sharp job at getting a reader to agree that the point of any online campaign (direct response anyway) is capturing new customers and recapturing existing customers.  I guess not everyone wants to write the proverbial 10-step to … article, and thank god for that, but you still want the In-Focus pieces to give some practical steps about what you should do when you find yourself in the related conundrum.


Inventory is getting more competitive.  Finding the niche sites is harder to do.  Eric illustrates how to use MediaMetrics to your advantage but what about his mentioning of Alexa and Quantcast?  How are leading media buyers and planners using those as well?  How do you integrate to become more effective in an increasingly competitive marketplace?  With over 20M sites, Quantcast is one of the fastest growing media planning tools out there – especially for the smaller agency who can’t afford Comscore.  The cutting edge sites recognize that, and so they are flocking to Alexa and Quantcast for that reason.  They want the new, new media dollars.


Re-targeting is hot.  Ouch!  Eric glosses over this with a simple explanation.  He knows this topic better and to assume that the audience just get’s it, is part of the problem in this space.  People are not spending time going deep with the details.  I blog about this topic too frequently to go off on it now, but I do think that when we get into an In-Focus article we should see more practical insight into how to use these technologies so that there is a take-away that we can apply ourselves. 


When you advertise on the same sites, month after month, the composition of your advertising audience is increasingly becoming more and more comprised of both your customers and your previous leads.  People frequent the same sites.  If you advertise in the same places – presumably because they continue to perform – you will be exposing yourself to more and more of the same people.  You still perform well because the audience is large enough to generate new opportunities.  But there are existing customers and former leads there too.  Re-targeting is very important to advertisers who spend money on the same sites.  Having the opportunity to communicate to your existing customers and your former leads is vital.  Why re-prospect your customers when you can cross-sell, up-sell and regenerate more revenue from them?  Why re-pitch a lost lead the same way again?  Acknowledge their disinterest the first time around and play on it, maybe it will work.


Everyone likes to use buzz words, I’m guilty of it too.  Long tail and Web 2.0 are two of my favorite.  People don’t even necessarily know what they mean any longer.  Or they never did.


“To be fair, the dilution of context when weighed in the balance of media efficiency may not justify the exercise, but in the end, we’re really interested in the behavior of our prospects.”  Huh?  Okay, actually this statement by Eric makes more sense in this blog than it did in his article.  I am pretty sure he was trying to explain that undervalued inventory, when bought in larger volume, can have as great of an impact as that premium space.  So look into that.  RightMedia Exchange is a great source of decent inventory at a great price.  And of course there are a ton of networks out there.  Eric did point out that buying behavioral targeting services will boost your response rates and if you buy that inventory at auction, you could be doing even better with your ROI.


Of course, there are always the non CPM models.  If you are buying direct response, you don’t have to buy CPMs.  Can you still deploy BT if you are not buying CPMs?  Actually you can.  You can’t count impressions, but you can cookie your visitors and your customers and use an ad server to serve your ads.  Obviously you will be serving a huge number of impressions, so find an ad server willing to negotiate a great rate for you – use a low file size and agree to a high volume commitment and some ad servers will play ball.  But if you use a first party ad server (TruEffect) or a BT-providing ad server (DoubleClick’s Boomerang) then you can still do it.


What about Search?  Can you do BT?  You can’t on the serve, but you can once the click takes place.  You can cookie the user or read the cookie on the user’s browser and then drive them to unique landing pages using something like CoreMetrics. 


This is the kind of information that Eric could have provided to us in his article.  The deep-dive In-Focus articles are meant to give us some meat where the daily 800-word essays don’t have room to provide.  Of course, Eric only used 1,000 words.


Reactionary with Insight

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Lead Gen 2.0: The New Opportunity and More if You Follow-Through

Michael Rosenberg has provided us with a good foundation to use for evaluating and selecting lead generation partners in his Lead Gen 2.0: The New Opportunity from MediaPost’s Performance Insider.  Michael illustrates some fundamental requirements that we should be demanding from a solid lead generation partner including:


(1)    24/7 real-time reporting


(2)    Access to multiple verticals


(3)    Access to and ability to leverage “your” customer once you acquire them


(4)    Low transaction costs


But when you work with a lead generation partner it is important to think about how you will leverage the assets you are generating through that relationship so that you can maximize your investment.  Lead-generation processes expose your offers to a huge base of prospects, and deliver qualified leads to your offering on a direct response basis.  You pay for performance and when someone actually becomes a lead, they are delivered to your doorstep. 


The lead information may be delivered to you, or they may be passed over to you for you to collect the information.  I always prefer to host the pages that are collecting the information.  Big difference as to whether you are collecting the information or if it is being collected for you.  The sooner you have access to the lead, the sooner you are controlling the conversion process.


Matt Wise discussed the concept of “data skimming” in his MediaPost article in 5 Questions to Ask Your Online Lead Generation Provider where he said “Most marketers should retain 100% ownership of the consumer data. Providers who practice data skimming — reselling your lead’s personally identifiable information — pose a serious risk of compromising your trusted relationship with the consumer.” 


I have a client who spends roughly $300,000 a month on lead generation alone and they actively are aware of the fact that they are getting skimmed data.  They are in such a niche industry that they have little control over the publishers that they work and therefore accept the practice.  But they are accepting poor quality leads too.  The leads are collected on their behalf and they receive the information after the fact.  Some publishers pass the individual to the advertiser so that they may collect the lead information directly and obviously those sources result in much higher conversation rates.


When you have access to the user sooner, you can immediately start to develop that relationship and rapport.  You can also start to do something else … tracking and measurement. 


As Michael indicated in his article, you want to make sure that you select a vendor who gives you access to 24/7 detailed reporting.  Jere Doyle, President & CEO of Prospectiv contributed an article to MediaPost on this topic entitled, Qualifying Your Online Lead Generation Partner wherein he said that you should insist that your vendor is “…measuring key data such as response rate, cost per lead, conversion rate, revenue by source….” 


But once you have access to your lead, you can start to lay down your own reporting processes too.  Let’s start with the cookie.  When you first receive the individual, you can leverage a cookie to track the user’s behavior.  First, you can use a site-side analytics tracking beacon – like an Omniture, WebSideStory or WebTrends to track the user from source through the lead reception process through to (hopefully) a sale. 


From the sale point forward you will be able to track that individual based on their source once they join your eCRM system as well leveraging your own additional first party cookie.


But what if that person bails out before the sale?  Do you let them off that easily?  Hell no!  You can use event-based behavioral targeting to cookie the user as they go through the lead generation process to source the user just in case they bail in addition to the site-side analytics tracking described above.  This way if they bail, you have them tagged for future targeting using banner advertising.  If you work with TACODA or Advertising.com you can use their pixels to deploy behavioral targeting later on and try to recapture the lead again with messages that speak to the fact that they were previously a lead.


Third option is that you use a first party cookie during the lead reception process.  Integrate the event-based targeting process using the first party cookie so that the advertiser is tracking the lead reception process with their own cookie.  If the lead converts – you have the first party cookie in place for site-side analytics and eCRM.  If the lead bails, you have the behavioral targeting in place but it will be site and network agnostic meaning that you will have deployed it across the internet instead of just across a network.


Furthermore, you will also have deployed re-targeting even if the person is not a customer.  While going through the first party cookie writing process, you can write details to the cookie about where they are in the lead generation process so that if they bail you can target them based on where they bailed – like traditional behavioral targeting.  But if they return to your site directly you can also content-target them based on the same information that you’ve written into the cookie since it is your first party cookie.  Your content management system will be able to read the cookie and know this is a former lead and can receive them accordingly.


Lastly, if you used first party cookies, and they convert, you can re-target them as customers out on the web as I have discussed in the past using DirectServe™.  As a customer you will be able to recognize them, distinguish them from someone you don’t know and message to them accordingly.  You will be able to do this if they are a lead or a customer as I have just described. 


So again, why first party cookies instead of third party behavioral cookies:


(1)    If the lead converts you can use re-targeting


(2)    If the lead converts you can use site-side analytics and eCRM with the cookie fully integrated


(3)    If the lead bails you can behaviorally target anywhere on the web, not just on one network


(4)    If the lead bails, you can recognize them if they return to your site independently and message to them accordingly


(5)    If you happen to reach them through an email marketing campaign that delivers creative, and they open it, you will be able to recognize them and message to them accordingly


(6)    Third party cookies get deleted over 40% of the time – Jupiter Research


(7)    First party cookies persist over 95% of the time so you will have a greater chance of keeping your data current


Lead Generation 2.0 brings forth a lot of possibilities and we have to be aggressive in what we get for what we pay for.  But is equally important that we also leverage technology to maximize what we do with what we get after we pay for it.  If that last sentence makes sense to you, you’re already half way there!


Reactionary with Insight 

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3 Steps to Targeting Nirvana, Bennett Zucker Gives Us Open Market Benefits that will Improve BT

Go-Bennett, a great article in iMediaConnection on Thursday.  Three Steps to Targeting Nirvana defines behavioral targeting today and outlines an open marketplace, an open technology platform and what he characterizes as ‘an open mind.’


Up front, Bennett makes the argument that the onus of responsibility for accurate and aggressive BT should not fall on publishers.  Efforts results in wasted inventory, poor performance and lack of attention that should truly benefit the advertiser.  Advertiser-directed BT is where it’s at.  We have the technology and the science is far more impactful.  In fact, Bennett does a great job of presenting an example of a car-buying scenario which illustrates how advertiser-driven BT better serves publishers.


In the section on open market place, Bennett tries to present a clean argument.  Advertisers ideally should have the opportunity to cherry pick the inventory they buy, so as to promote the opportunity to select the inventory that will meet their BT needs.  I know that Bennett has struggled with the “I don’t want to be a self-promoting author” and so kudos for giving us several examples in your story.  Right Media is clearly the leading auction exchange model in the space.  But AdBrite is a solid player and a good alternative for people to be looking at, especially if they want to have an alternative to Right Media or want to investigate options before jumping into bed with a specific vendor (if you can even call RM a vendor, more like a facilitator). 


Anyway, Bennett is trying to paint the utopian picture for us here – advertisers cherry picking inventory.  I know that in theory that is what the auction model enables you to do – bid on the inventory that you want and forego that which you don’t want.  But most of the inventory on the Right Media Exchange is network  inventory so you really can’t be so laser targeted.  The RM Direct Exchange, however, may be something to look at in terms of publisher-specific inventory.


Bennett is honest to himself and us insomuch that he acknowledges that networks are inherently limited by the design of only being able to offer BT within their own network.  So even if you could cherry pick the inventory you wanted, you could only deploy BT on that network.  Using an ad server with BT would overcome that, if the ad server BT can be deployed across the networks.  Bennett surprisingly does not go into this in his article.


Here is where I think the article could use a fourth and maybe even a fifth section.


Requirement 4 – Ad serving that Re-targets With BT Agnostically


Several ad server offer BT that can extend across multiple networks.  Event-based BT like Boomerang by DoubleClick for example can enable and advertiser to track behavioral of people who have been on their site and then target them across the web – including across networks.  If an advertiser were to deploy event-based BT in conjunction with selective inventory buys on an auction exchange, they could be deploying BT with far more refinement.


Deploying first party ad serving by TruEffect is a second alternative.  With first party ad serving, the inventory acquired through the auction can be targeted using re-targeting methods of the first party cookie and any existing customer can be recognized and re-targeted in real-time.  Treated like any other inventory, all inventory bought through the network could easily be re-targeted using a DirectServe™ implementation.


Requirement 5Ad Serving that Integrates


A final consideration today, and a growing requirement is a concept that I have heard advertisers call a ‘universal’ or ‘megapixel.’  In the days where sites are getting tagged by ad servers, publishers, networks, site-side analytics and pretty much any other tracking mechanisms, there is a need for a single pixel that can shoulder other tracking beacons.


Dynamic Logic’s Universal Tag is one example of this kind of technology.  Shouldering multiple tags, this universal pixel enables an advertiser to tag the site one time.  DoubleClick has an alliance with DL so that they can offer this solution to their clients.  TruEffect has a similar technology called TruTags™ whereby they have one tag that is placed on the site and through it, multiple tags can be managed so that an advertiser only has to tag the site one time and any other tags can be added or removed through a single common interface.  The piggy-backing enables the advertiser or agency to eliminate the need to go back and keep tagging the site eveytime a new netrok buy comes into play.


The great benefit of these megapixels is that with Bennett’s story, one could buy inventory at auction – which will almost always be network inventory – use an ad sever that deploys BT like event-based or First Party DirectServe™ and then use a universal tag or megapixel to reduce tagging requirements as each new network is bought.  Snazzy.  Good article Bennett.


Reactionary with Insight.

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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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Predict Your Audience’s Preferences, Digging into [x+1]

[x+1]’s VP of product development, Howard Fiderer explains in iMediaConnection how to make consumer data actionable so that you can tailor users’ experiences to their tastes on their very first visit in Predict Your Audience’s Preferences.


 


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, [x+1] is the former Poindexter.  Originally a primary ad serving company, Poindexter raised an eight-figure round of private financing in March of 2005 and used the funds to re-define the company from product, to target market, to brand.  Starting with adapting the mathematical formula x+1, Poindexter reset itself in the marketplace.  “We’re using this as an opportunity to mark a stake in the ground for a category we’re trying to define, marketing optimization,” the company’s CEO Toby Gabriner told ClickZ News in April 2005.  [x+1] proposed to focus on advertiser-marketing within the advertiser’s site while maintaining their advertising business, or ad serving business.  Ideally, they saw the opportunity to integrate the two products into a prospect-drawing and customer-targeting model as the ideal go-to-market.


 


First problem to overcome, Poindexter’s ad server was not viewed as a tier-one ad server in the market.  Although it had respectable market share, their reporting capabilities were commonly considered to be sub-par.  Major advertisers like American Express, who had termed contracts with Poindexter, complained about the lack of report diversity and the limitations of data availability.  Other agency users also had issues with their reporting, when their advertiser clients forced Poindexter on them.  That was the model for Poindexter, they sold to the advertiser so the agency would have to use them. 


 


Actually, it was more of a resultant model.  Poindexter sold to advertisers because they were looking to sell their ad serving and their developing predictive customer targeting back-end solution.  They promised improved reporting but it was not coming fruition on the ad serving side for customers. 


 


A Perfect example with regard to reporting shortfalls is the concept of ‘view-through.’  A view-through is when a user sees an advertisement served by an ad server but does not click on it.  Later that user visits the desired landing page which is tagged by the ad server and can be measured back by the ad server as having seen that particular ad on the associated site (placement) where it has been displayed.  This is known throughout the industry as a ‘view-through’ and [x+1] can not measure it, or at least does not report on it to its advertising customers.


 


But what [x+1] was particularly good at was/is the site-side customer analytics and applying those anaytics for targeting.  Like Howard’s article describes.  This is what secured their relationships with large advertisers who were using their ad serving as well.  The conversion from Poindexter to [x+1] was incredibly intelligent because it was a migration toward their core competency.  Following the April announcement, rumors spread that [x+1] would be abandoning their ad serving business altogether.  However they have maintained their media+1 product line, which is their ad server.  With that, however, they are hardly ever encountered as a competitive bidder in the ad serving sales arena.


 


One likeable aspect of Howard’s article was that it was not self-promoting.  Howard opens the door to site-side predictive modeling and website customer conversion and retention but he kept it very high level.  In fact, it would have been nice if he had gotten more granular for us so that we could have a better understanding as to how to apply his concepts.  I never have a problem when people mention providers – even their own companies – so long as they mention competitors and highlight the best solutions without bias. 


 


[x+1] offers up two primary products: media+1 and site+1.  Howard’s article is focused on a capability delivered by the latter, a tool that matches messages and offers with audience segments to simplify and optimize visitor acquisition, enable a site to up-sell conversions and promote customer retention.  This of course is according to the [x+1] web site.


 


My experience, and the feedback that I have received from clients is that site+1 is [x+1] true wheelhouse offering.  As I have described, this is where their ability to enable an advertiser to confidently target excels.  Ad serving is a secondary competency.  In fact, [x+1] has partnered with ad servers like DoubleClick to allow an advertiser to take advantage of site+1 while working with another ad server.  If not already, I would expect integration with more ad servers to come.  Clearly the company respects to obvious stats.  The first is that people are not going to change ad servers to utilize site+1 – they are not going to adapt media+1, known to be inferior, just to have the ability to utilize site+1.  Secondly, if someone is already using an ad server – and DoubleClick represents like 50% of the market (good first partner to choose), then better to enable integration to open up a new customer base than to compete.


 


Reactionary with Insight

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Behavioral Targeting and Reducing Ad Spend? Nah

Robert Moskowitz introduces a piece on iMediaConnection reflecting industry insiders weighing in on whether behavioral targeting enables advertisers to spend less while getting better results.  It’s a light a fluffy piece, citing insight from Bill Gross at Revenue Science, Emily Reilly at Jupiter Research and Dave Hallerman at eMarketer.  The gist of it all is that Behavioral targeting allows an advertiser to ‘get more for their money,’ insinuating that they could reach goals with less dollars. 


 


Of course that assumption is off.  When budgets are set, advertisers will spend those dollars whether performance is better or worse.  Subsequent budget planning will be based on those results.  Therefore if an advertiser can get more accomplished with fewer dollars, they will just get even more accomplished with the budgets that were planned.  Kudos! 


 


Online spend is on the rise.  If it is becoming more efficient to generate better quality results through BT, then spend will likely increase to generate even more results. 


 


Of course, the flip side is that publishers are on to this as well and the cost of BT is on the rise as well!  Publishers are not making the money on BT that they had hoped.  It requires a lot of $0.30 CPM impressions to get that $30 CPM BT impression served so the net is not great.  Therefore there are additional fees being slapped on the advertiser and there are net fees being included as well to raise the cost and justify the capability for the publishers.

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Gaining Ground with Behavioral Targeting: Mediaplex tells (Almost) All

So I have received a lot of email and even a couple of phone calls regarding yesterday’s article by Mediaplex’s Sean Quick in iMediaConnection.  How could I let an article on Gaining Ground with Behavioral Targeting go by without so much as a comment, when so much of my blog addresses this topic with such conviction?  Well, yesterday was my birthday so I was out having a much needed break!  But I’ll have at it now!


 


Okay, first of all I have to start off by saying that Sean did a good job of breaking up BT into two distinct categories – passive and active.  He used these descriptions to help us understand the difference between the classic event-based targeting capabilities of a TACODA and the re-targeting capabilities that I have been evangelizing on this blog.  I was so pleased to see Sean use the term customer re-targeting as well, since it was not an industry term when I first started this blog and my Urchin reports show Mediaplex on my blog everyday.  I take Sean’s usage of the term as a compliment J.


 


Recently I posted When to Blog and When to Publish, commenting on what I believe to be the hairline-thick line between what is informational and what is self-promotional publishing online.  I issued a request for feedback as to whether I should be blogging or publishing and if there are topics on my blog suitable for publishing, should you believe I should be publishing.  I was contacted by Brad Berens at iMediaConnection who suggested that I could follow the thought leadership track when writing for iMediaConnaction (with their help) and that my self-promotion and subjective style could be reserved for the blog.  Works for me!  Anyway, stay tuned as you may see some writing show up out there as well…


 


Anyway, back to Sean’s article.  While Sean does specifically highlight ValueClick’s Mediaplex as the provider of re-targeting, he also mentioned DoubleClick and Advertising.com.  So I don’t fault him for direct self-promotion.  But what I do believe Sean fails to do is accurately depicting customer re-targeting as it has come to be defined. 


 


If anything I believe that what Sean has done is introduced a third form of behavioral targeting: (1) passive, (2) active event-based and (3) active segment-based.


 


Passive BT goes back to the event-based targeting that I have already discussed in many postings.  Sean describes it as follows:


 


Passive BT — also sometimes called Targeted Segments and other names — is generally done either through applications that reside on a user’s computer, such as downloaded software, or through tracking tags that reside on publishers’ websites.  In either case, these technologies anonymously record consumer web browsing activity.  The consumer is unaware that such tracking is occurring, as it doesn’t affect their surfing activity in any noticeable way.


 


The tracking information is collected and analyzed, and the cornerstone of this approach is the subsequent attempt to make increasingly educated guesses about a consumer’s interests based on the data in order to deliver timely and relevant marketing communications.


 


Examples of providers of this approach include Tacoda, Revenue Science and Claria.


 


The Active BT that Sean describes is “also called User Retargeting [and] consists of anonymously registering consumers’ proactive, direct interaction with a company’s marketing efforts. For example, display or email advertisements or material on the client’s website and then implementing follow-up marketing programs that address that explicitly expressed interest in an attempt to deepen the relationship and lead to conversion.”


 


So this is still event-based.  A better description is Event-Based Active BT.  The information leveraged for re-targeting is based on other marketing experiences.  Sean does not describe the application of this BT specifically in terms of online advertising, nor does he describe it in terms of preventing the re-prospecting of customers through online advertising.  In fact, what he is doing is explaining that Event-Based Active BT can coordinate disparate forms of online marketing to collectively create a concrete BT model.  Moreover, and what is entirely left out of this article is the PROCESS.


 


One thing that I am so careful to do in all of my postings – and what I believe will be a focus of articles that I would write for IMC – is to illuminate the procedural differences between various kinds of technologies so that people can come to distinguish them.  It is important to understand the impact of a first party design and a third party design for example.  The benefits and differences of these kinds of technologies transcend the advertising experience for both the advertiser and user – in fact for the publisher too. 


 


TruEffect holds the patent-pending rights to first party ad serving.  So if another ad server were to implement a first party design, they would violate that patent and would be putting their clients in a nefarious situation that would result in problems down the road.  Aside from that, other ad servers are not doing it that way anyway right now.  They have their own design using a third party cookie and a synchronization process.  They still have their ‘control the data and you own the client’ model.


 


Listen, Sean is not going to talk to me about it, obviously.  But maybe he will talk to you and then you can come back and talk to all of us on the blog.  OR, maybe Sean would like to come on here and have a discussion with all of us.  It would be great to bring the truth out.


 


If Mediaplex is using a third party cookie to conduct user re-targeting, it is historically synchronizing.  Latency comes into play and there are limitations to the benefits that only a real-time capability can bring to the table.  Only a first party cookie foundation is capable of doing it in real-time. 


 


If Mediaplex is having clients share record information so that Mediaplex can assign cookie values to people when they transact or otherwise experience a marketing event, it is still a third party cookie, foreign to the advertiser and so the limitations include:


 



  1. The ad serving data is mediaplex’s data, accessible only by mediaplex;
  2. The cookie information is not accessible by the advertiser;
  3. The ad serving information is not readily integratable with other technologies such as site-side analytics which may be another third party cookie (omniture) or could be a first party cookie (WebSideStory or Webtrends); and
  4. Mediaplex can not adjust targeting strategies in real-time, targets must be determined in advanced.


As we have covered in many entries on this blog.  First party ad serving, using a first party cookie, allows all of the four aforementioned limitations to be mitigated.  Most of all, targeting can happen in real-time.  An advertiser can change a cookie value, login to the ad server and change the targeting reaction to the cookie; and the change is instantaneous. 


 


With a third-party implementation, the advertiser has have to share the altered customer information with the ad server (Mediaplex, DoubleClick) and then the ad server has to start writing new cookies, which have to propagate, and then the ad targeting can begin.  Can you say latency?


 


Two other limitation issues: (1) SOX and (2) third party cookie deletion.


 


When a third party is handling your data, and you have SOX compliance issues, you have a potential problem.  Using a third-party cookie and a third party ad server, deploying event-based Active BT, means your data about your customers is being shared with a third party who is subsequently developing additional information about your customers and gate-keeping your access to that data.  You need to make sure that you have controls written about the handling of that data because it is out of your control.  This is not an issue with first party ad serving because all of your ad serving data flows directly through to the advertiser and is not withheld by the ad server.


 


Secondly, third party cookies get deleted over 40% of the time – Jupiter Research.  So only 60% of the Event-Based Active BT will be effective whereas over 90% of first party cookies are persistent.  Do the math and you will realize that leveraging a first party cookie will bring a much higher yield in re-targeting activities.


 


So Sean’s article stimulates the interest and probably results in some genuine leads to Mediaplex, but I wonder how far down the path you will get with Mediaplex before you come to realize that you have not come to engage with customer re-targeting but more event-based BT?


 


The third form of BT that I characterized earlier is Active Customer Re-targeting.  The fundamental distinguishing difference is that the advertiser is creating customer segments and is cookieing their customers directly, as opposed to the ad server cooking the customer.  Advertisers may cookie their customers through eCRM, eCommerce cycles, email processes, site-side analytic platforms (i.e., WebSideStory), landing pages (i.e., CoreMetrics) all using their own first party cookie.  They can create customer segment profiles that associate a user with a customer type, just like they do offline with direct mail, cataloging and telemarketing and then deploy customer re-targeting with their online advertising.


 


So Sean, it would be very interesting to have a follow-up article with which we hear how Mediaplex, and if you’re so inclined to research your other examples – Advertising.com and DoubleClick – conduct the Event-Based Active User Re-targeting.  But that might not be on your agenda.  Hey Brad, maybe I’ll write that article for you!


 


Reactionary with Insight.

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This I believe

So for several months now I have been closely watching the industry, reading articles, PR releases, product releases, financial releases and generally paying attention.  I have been taking bits and pieces of what I care about and have been making comments and providing what I believe has been an insightful perspective on how technology can be better leveraged to improve how we advertise online.


 


I have looked at the ad servers, the networks, the lead generation tools.  I have examined the search engines, the publisher tools and the creative formats and provided you with feedback on what other reliable people have had to say.


 


And I have discussed ad agencies, their workflow, the media buying process and the tools that people use to do their jobs, however inefficiently I may believe that to be.


 


Here is my position.


 


The agencies have engaged the interactive medium completely.  Estimates for 2007 are that between 12 ½ and 20% of advertising budgets will go towards new media.  This is no longer the edgy side-project.  Engagement with technology is here.  But it is about refinement. 


 


Search is essential but everyone is coming to recognize that there is something wrong with the model.  It is extremely time-intensive and expensive to manage.  Furthermore the ROI metrics seem to slip the longer you run campaigns.  As I have said in the past, a tipping point is coming. 


 


Networks have been doing their thing the same way with some minor tweaks for a while now and people are demanding more disclosure.  Tolerance for media showing up on inappropriate sites is very low, accountability is high and additional capabilities like behavioral targeting has become an expectation.


 


That brings me to behavioral targeting – a very common topic on this blog.  I have ripped this topic up and down.  My intent has been to redefine this concept as event-based targeting and to justify that there is little about behaviors actually associated with it at all.  Just because someone took a navigation path, or saw a page means little about their behavior, the predictability of their behavior or their preferences.  All we know is something that happened.  Historical targeting is a better description but I have used event-based targeting over the last couple of months.


 


I have never tried to minimize the value of BT, only put it into it rightful place as a solid prospecting and direct response advertising mechanism.  BT does not represent the best means to capturing known individuals, in fact, it does not have the capacity to associate with knowledge about people at all.  Only with events.  But I believe that BT should be part of a comprehensive campaign.


 


People have approached me both on and off this blog about my position towards BT and some of the networks, but I think its because they have been defensive and protective of their positions as representatives of these companies.  Others have engaged me – usually advertisers, agency representatives or others who see that the evolution of practice is inevitable and being on the adaptive edge of the curve is better than the laggards edge.


 


I have also spent a lot of time plugging a concept called first party ad serving.  Forgive me for the plugs.  Obviously as a member of TruEffect I have a lot of passion for what we do here.  But I also spend a lot of time looking for other technologies that can rival or at least coexist, companion or compliment what we are doing here.


 


The patent-pending DirectServe™ Technology that TruEffect has brought to the market represents the next generation of ad serving.  It leverages the knowledge that an advertiser holds about its customers, registrants or users to re-target through ad campaigns.  This is not a replacement for other technologies out there – I have said that before as well – but a great new way of doing it.  An addition to a comprehensive advertising strategy.


 


First party ad serving is about customer re-targeting.  BT is about event-based targeting, best applied when trying to capture unknown individuals.  One is for bringing in new business; one is about farming and growing existing business.  There is no point is re-prospecting existing customers while advertising online.  DirectServe™ takes care of that.  BT leverages previous events so that you can increase the likelihood of putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time based on historical events.  DirectServe™ puts the right message in front of the right person based on known customer segmentation models, knowledge already held about customers.  This a potential marriage.


 


Now BT is largely touted by networks, so there is a limitation as to how you can use it.  I talk about TACODA a lot – which I think Dave Morgan has not be thrilled about – but its because they have been the leader in the space.  I have also talked about Advertising.com and Blue Streak and Tribal and others as well.  But ad servers offer BT too.  DoubleClick’s Boomerang does it.  TruEffect does it.  And that extends beyond networks.


 


I also talk about integration.  Agencies are not on this trail so much as advertisers.  Well, some agencies are but they are the minority.  I have strong opinions about this because I feel that they pieces of the puzzle are all here now for us to put together a great picture of our online marketing so that we can make better informed decisions about our web site compositions, product placements, online advertising and budget allocations.  But nobody has fully engaged yet.  There are leaders that are putting the pieces together, but I am advocating the full-monty and that is what you read about on this blog.


 


Tying it all together will enable an advertiser to make the best possible decisions regarding allocation of online media spend.  It will promote the best utilization of technology, improve product placement on web sites, increase the value of existing customers, the initial value of new customers and enhance the likelihood of increasing the utilization of interactive media as a channel for marketing.


 


See my ten-step recipe for full-integration of all the technology pieces of an online advertising campaign.


 


First let me redefine that a third party cookie is a vendor’s cookie and a first party cookie is an advertiser’s cookie.  Here is the recipe.

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Ten Step Recipe for a Fully-Integrated Online Marketing Initiative

In my next post, This I believe, I state my position on agencies, networks, ad servers, writers and pretty much all things online advertising related.  In the end I offer up a reciper for putting together all of the technologies into a holistic, comprehensive marketing initiative.  Here it is.

First let me redefine that a third party cookie is a vendor’s cookie and a first party cookie is an advertiser’s cookie.  Here is the recipe:


 


(1)            Starting with the tagging of a web site so that cookies can be set (first party cookies of course) when someone is on the site. 


(2)            Then add in Ad serving – first party ad serving (like the patent-pending DirectServe™) to promote products or services on the web. 


(3)            Mix in the search advertising and be sure to use the ad server’s first party cookie and leverage a redirect so that the search term can be embedded into the cookie so that when the user lands on the advertiser’s web page that search term is associated with that user.


(4)            Deploy customer re-targeting advertising whereby you leverage customer segments from the eCRM database to recognize and distinguish customers through ad campaigns with specific banner advertisements, rich media and video.


(5)            Deploy BT for anyone that visits the web site directly and cookie that user with a first-party cookie so that the re-targeting mechanism can work when they encounter that individual online (on a network or web site).


(6)            Engage with a site-side analytics provider that will use a first party deployment – like WebSideStory – and take full advantage of tracking anonymous user behavior across your web site.  Track all navigation patterns, entrance and exist points, product position preferences, sales cycles, etc.


(7)            Leverage site-side analytics to write the first party cookie and segment the cookie value based on user preferences in association with CRM data.


(8)            Feed the customer preference cookie value to generate the customer segments and associate the customer segments with creative target groups that the ad server will serve in the re-target campaigns (back to #4)


(9)            Have the DirectServe™ write to the cookie during the ad serving process the details of the ad serving history to the cookie so that when a prospect of customer comes to the site, the site-side analytics software can internalize all of the external activity and use it for further analysis on how someone became a customer or how returning customers were reacquired.  First party ad serving will give site-side analytics outside perspective of web marketing.


(10)       Complete the circle by leveraging the holistic view by analyzing the reports on how you acquire customers through BT, Search and Banner advertising, how you re-acquire existing customers through DirectServe™ first party ad serving and how both types interact with your site using site-side analytics.  Determine which messaging strategies, campaign combinations of banners and placements, search engines and terms and which technologies are delivering the greatest source of new customer and returning customer yield and make future media buying decisions based on that analysis.

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Post-Search Data and Banner Advertising


Phil Leggiere interviewed Right Media’s director of Product Management, Alex Hooshmand and published the interview in the January 31st 2007 edition of MediaPost’s Behavioral Insider. 


 


At the end of the interview, Phil asked about the new frontier of Behavioral Targeting, what is coming next.  Hooshmand’s response, “we now have several clients who are using post-search behavior to target banner or display ads.”  Let’s get into that.


 


So what are the options?


 


Obviously RightMedia has some offering within their exchange network although I have not been able to find anything more than that.  Plus as a hermetically sealed network you are limited to being a buyer or seller within that auction environment.  Works great for direct response, low-dollar advertisers and publishers with remnant inventory but not for the rest of the market.


 


One options is Post-search advertising.  AlmondNet delivers post-search paid-listings to users based on previous search behavior across its distributed ad network.  If a user searches on an item through conventional search, their search behavior is cookied and tracked.  When they are encountered in the future they are targeted with relevant paid listings.  This is a lot like behavioral targeting only with paid listings and with search instead of pixel-associated events.


 


MSN’s new AdCenter offers an advertiser the opportunity to target their search advertising by demographics, geography, day-part and several other parameters.  So they are using browser-based cookies to single-out users for targeting.  Crossing the chasm to then offer an advertiser the opportunity to subsequently advertise a banner ad to someone based on search response behavior would not be a hard leap to make.  But that is my supposition and is not something that has been publicly been brought to market.  But it will I am guessing.


 


Then of course there is my favorite, the creative approach that the early adopters are deploying.  Search advertising with First Party cookie ad serving. 


 


Advertisers that manage healthy search campaigns will usually employ the services of an ad server to track their campaigns – leveraging unique click-thru URLs and landing pages to track each keyword.  This approach enables the advertiser to measure the effectiveness of every keyword.  While the search engines may provide impression data on the keywords through their reports, and clicks, the ad servers can provide successful clicks and then post-click events (what happens after someone clicks on the keyword and enters the advertiser’s site) when the advertiser’s site is properly tagged with tracking pixels.


 


One of the benefits of using an ad server is to have the comparative reporting between a search engine’s reported clicks and actual clicks.  Up until recently, Google reportedly had a click-fraud rate of approx 12%.  Now it is 2% with the invention of something they refer to as “invalid clicks” making up the other 10%.  Invalid clicks are screened out clicks that you no longer have to pay for.  So they are making good on the evident occurrence of people clicking on multiple links before pages load, “stopped” browsers, spiders and bots, failed page loads and other behaviors that result in “fraud” click counts but unsuccessful events.  Whereas, the ad server counts the click as resulting in someone landing on the advertiser’s web page.


 


But back to the integration of search and banner advertising.  When using an ad server to manage search campaigns, a user receives a cookie when they click-thru to the advertiser’s web site.  I know I have gone though this before so my readers should have this down.  But the basics are as follows:


 


The cookie is placed on the browser so that they can be tracked through to the advertiser’s web page and the activity can be credited back to the keyword and search engine.  As this user continues to surf the web they can be recognized and targeted based on that cookie with banner ads. 


 


If it is a third-party cookie, it is event-based targeting.  TACODA, Advertising.com are network examples and Boomerang are ad server examples that can apply this technology and can target a user based on their search behavior.


 


If it is a first party ad serving implementation – DirectServe – then the cookie that is applied is the advertiser’s cookie.  The behavioral targeting features still apply insomuch that if all they do is visit the site, they can be targeted with future ads just like with the example described above for third party providers. 


 


But with first party implementations, the user can also be targeted based on advertiser knowledge generated from the site visit.  For example, if the user clicked on the search term and registered for information, purchased a product or applied for a loan then they are in the CRM system and are a known individual that can be included in a customer segment.  Customer segments can be targeted with DirectServe, first party ad serving. 


 


A user who clicks on a search term and visits the advertiser’s site; and who then completes some level of activity that results in their identification will get a first party cookie.  This individual can then be re-targeted with ads anywhere across the internet at anytime as a customer or registrant.  They can be up-sold, cross-sold or otherwise targeted as an anonymous member of a customer segment (brand preference, purchase frequency, buying habits, etc.).


 


Post-search behavior can be used to create the customer segments when the users arrive for the first time.  For example, the segment examples can further be dissected to include keyword groups so that when targeted, the advertisements appeal to keyword groups that initially generated the user’s response.  Once the user returns to the web page – just like when they first arrived at the site – a content management system can leverage the actual keyword to customize content delivery and properly display product information to maximize revenue or other desired response.


 


I’d love to hear from you on this.  This can be done a number of ways.  But the easiest that I have come across so far is to integrate the three – search, behavioral targeting and DirectServe/first party ad serving. 


 


As I have described in the past DirectServe has three phases of implementation: (1) re-targeting, (2) cookie-writing and data delivery for analytics and (3) integration – CRM, Content Management and Site-Side Analytics.  But for the purpose of this post and this example, I am really only focusing on re-targeting.  That is as far as you need to go and you will already be way ahead of the curve.


 


What else can you do?


 


If you integrate your search with your ad serving, leveraging post-search capabilities to drive your behavioral targeting (prospecting) and customer re-targeting (DirectServe), you will generate data that you can analyze about customers that will enable you to better understand not just what search terms generate leads but what search terms generate customers, customer segment groups, customer values, repeat custom actions and long-term metrics.  Grouping keywords together will help you determine long-term effectiveness of search campaigns.  Furthermore, by integrating post-search with banner advertising, you will be able to recognize how search and banner messages combine to effective solidify messages and have the same impact that can be measured with the same metrics described above.  You can go hog wild!  But most importantly you can measure and determine how to better allocate media spend.  If search works for you, you will know why and how.  You will come to recognize how to compliment it with banner advertising. 


 


Last thing.  When you use first party ad serving, the cookie that you tag a browser with helps you to measure advertising audience.  This means that when you advertise on Yahoo and you buy 1 M impressions, you will know exactly what % of that audience is comprised of existing customers and what % of that audience is comprised of people who have not been to your site before (or who have recently cleared out their cookie file). 


 


What about search?  The same holds true.  Any of your customers who carry your first party cookie will also be measurable.  If someone searches on a term and clicks through to your web site, and they are an existing customer already, they will be measured as an existing customer (their customer segment type will be measured) and you will know what % of the search audience you capture is already comprised of existing customers.  Interesting tidbit.  How much money do you spend with search recapturing recurring revenue?


 


Reactionary with Insight.

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