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What is Behavioral Targeting

Posted by Mort Greenberg on April 11, 2008



Behavioral targeting (BT) is an advertising methodology in which an advertiser’s creative is shown to users based on the sites they visit and/or what the user does on those sites.

The network or publisher creates behavioral segments based on where the user has gone and/or what they have done on various web pages. These are typically broad based descriptions like “Travel Shoppers” or “Auto Enthusiasts”, but they can also be very specific to an advertiser like “Users who put items in their shopping cart, but did not check out”. Another example is a segment based on users who have searched for an advertiser’s company name or product name.

In the paragraphs below, we’ll describe the three primary kinds of Behavioral Targeting and provide simple examples as well.

Type 1 Based on website/web page visited.

This is the most common type of Behavioral Targeting. In this case behavioral segments are developed by aggregating users who have gone to specific web sites that have very targeted content.

For Example: Users who frequent and or the travel section of would become part of the “Travel Shoppers” segment. Then, these users are re-targeted when they are found on other more general content type sites. This results in an increased reach to users who are in-market for a particular advertiser. See behavioral targeting in action. (pop up window – flash) (HTML only version)

Type 2 Based on keyword searched or content that was read.

This type of Behavioral Targeting develops behavioral segments by finding users who have searched for your product using specific keywords or have read content with specific keywords in it.

These keywords will be similar to the keywords you use for your search campaigns and will net similar increases in performance for a campaign when compared to Run of Network campaigns.

For example, if a user was reading an article about interest rates going up, the BT technology could target the top five keywords that surround the key concept of that page.

Type 3 Based on past visitors to your website.

This is a fairly common type of Behavioral Targeting that creates behavioral segments of users who have visited your web site. This is typically achieved by placing simple codes on your web page. A simple implementation would involve a single code on the home page.

Better results could be found if multiple codes were placed on different pages. By doing this you could create segments for “Home page viewers”, “Product information viewers” and “Shopping cart abandoned”. Based on these segments you could develop and deliver different messages to these three different segments:

    1.   People who have been to your web page, but haven’t read about your products need more overall information about your product or service.
    2.   People who have looked at product pages but haven’t started the purchase process may need more information about your product or an incentive to purchase.
    3.    People who have abandoned their shopping cart actually started a purchase, but didn’t complete that purchase. They may need an incentive to purchase or more information in order to complete the purchase.

The goal is to use BT to let you send the appropriate message to each user based on where they are in your product sales cycle. Using BT to deliver relevant messages to your past website visitors is the most efficient use of your advertising dollars.

Simply put, a consumer visiting your web site is the most powerful behavior that consumer could show you. See retargeting in action. (pop up window – flash) (HTML version)


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