Behavioral Matchmaking, Part 2: Search and Behavioral Targeting

  |  November 10, 2004   |  Comments

Imagine applying search data to behavioral marketing. Part 2 of a series on the potential future applications of behavioral targeting.

Search has become an integral part of the online experience. Its directness offers marketers many one-to-one opportunities. Search has experienced a super-accelerated, boys-to-men transformation -- in less than the total-season length of "The Sopranos."

Whether search led, or contributed to, the resurrection of the interactive advertising industry is arguable. What's certain is it's changed the way we connect and utilize the online medium. Some might even say search has exponentially elevated the complexity and intensity of the online media game.

Search is still an intent-based action. It thus demonstrates user behaviors that exhibit interests, patterns, and trends. Today, let's look at the possibility of a behavioral search engine. If you're just tuning in to the series, check out part one, on a complete on-/offline database to achieve a holistic understanding of consumer behaviors.

Tool or Fool?

Search is one of the purest one-to-one marketing solutions available in online media. Aside from providing cost-effective marketing campaign solutions, it can also serve as a prime foundation of online behavioral targeting.

Generally speaking, large search engines are a great tool to monitor consumer behaviors. Not only can these engines measure buzz and demand for products based on search data, they also offer real-time glimpses of consumer wants and market needs (recall Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance and its effect on Google earlier this year).

Can search really be applied to behavioral targeting? I believe so. Let me explain.

A keyword's popularity often implies consumer interest in a particular service or product. If you want to find out how much buzz there is for a given product launch, aggregate the Google and Overture search results (generated within a specific timeframe) to create a preliminary assessment of consumers' interests. To quote a former boss, "Search provides an immediate tool for tracking the heightened awareness of a topic in the eyes of the mass market."

If a week's most-searched words represent the most current market status in real time, then, by the principles of association and relativity, we can infer search queries are indicative of online consumer behaviors. If a user conducts massive travel-related searches ("cheap travel sites," "affordable flights," etc.), isn't this person an ideal target for travel-related offers? Such search data are crucial for online travel advertisers because chances are this user is planning travel in the near future.

Search is a behavior. It indicates near-future actions users might take. It's a true indication of consumer behavior in the most linear way. Keywords used probably reflect a user's current mindset and suggest that person's behavior. This type of cognitive-psychology-based action analysis is precisely why search data should be integrated with behavioral targeting. Search offers a synergistic complement to other marketing efforts.

Behavioral Search: Is There Such a Thing?

Conceptually, yes. Currently, no. But we're getting close.

Startup Eurekster dabbles in behavioral search by combining the concepts of search and social networking. Instead of simply making connections between individuals (as most social network sites do), it helps people locate information their friends and colleagues already find interesting. The engine ranks results according to what interests people in a particular social network.

Sure, Eurekster sounds more like Google-meet-Friendster than a behavioral search engine. But like Eurekster, we should index, log, and reference search queries in behavioral targeting. They're indicative, and can be predictive, of user's behaviors and actions online.

A recent Jupiter Research (a Jupitermedia Corp. division) study found "most online consumers still don't know exactly what they want when surfing for products online." The study suggests marketing should always be proactive, with specific calls to action for different demonstrated behaviors. It also promotes using of behavioral targeting as an inferred solution to mend the data gap between investigative/information-seeking actions (search) and navigational/experiential actions (online media).

What Does This Mean for Online Media?

Like search, behavioral targeting offers the same one-to-one marketing promise. This delicate relationship is paramount for media development in the future because it suggests elevated relevancy and personalization for each individual consumer.

There's currently a gap between search and media. Though Google's AdSense and Overture's Content Match can contextually match up consumers' interest with keywords within the content of a site, they don't address the broken data link between the disciplines (search and media).

Search still exists in a silo, apart from other online media. Whatever terms a user searches, results are only based on the word that user typed in, rather than interpreting where that user's been. Conversely, behaviorally targeted online banners don't take into consideration which keywords that user previously searched. If behavioral targeting is about understanding consumer actions and patterns (and it is!), then the data marriage between search and targeting is critical to future industry growth.

Integrating consumer search data with behaviorally targeted online media is a logical step toward a holistic understanding of how consumers use the online medium. We're not there yet, but we're getting closer.

In the final part of this series: GPS' (define) rising importance, and why it's the ultimate behavioral targeting.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!


Andy Chen

Based in London, Andy Chen is vice president of digital solutions for Viacom Brand Solutions(VBS) International. Prior to Viacom, Andy was the media strategy director at Carat International/Isobar, which handles global media and digital strategies for Philips, Renault, Adidas, and various other multinational clients.

A true advocate for global integration and strategy, Andy has lived and worked in Copenhagen and Stockholm, where he was a management consultant for the Swedish Advertising Association. He received his BA from University of California, Berkeley; and a MBA in international marketing and global management from Stockholm University, School of Business. Named one of the "20 Rising Media Stars to Watch in 2004" by "Media Magazine," Andy is a frequent international conference speaker on digital and interactive media. He published his first collaborative book, "The Changing Communication Paradigm," in November 2005.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.


    • Tier 1 Support Specialist
      Tier 1 Support Specialist (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreThis position requires a highly motivated and multifaceted individual to contribute to and be...
    • Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative
      Recent Grads: Customer Service Representative (Agora Financial) - BaltimoreAgora Financial, one of the nation's largest independent publishers...
    • Managing Editor
      Managing Editor (Common Sense Publishing) - BaltimoreWE’RE HIRING: WE NEED AN AMAZING EDITOR TO POLISH WORLD-CLASS CONTENT   The Palm...