Acxiom Blends Behavioral and Retargeting for Network Ads

  |  October 17, 2007   |  Comments

Ads are targeted across the new Relevance-X network, which spans hundreds of properties represented by several ad networks and exchanges.

A new Acxiom offering blends behavioral targeting and re-targeting to replicate offline direct marketing practices on the Web. Through the service, relevant online advertising is delivered across the Relevance-X network with the same targeting abilities as direct mail to households and individuals.

On the behavioral side, the service draws on Acxiom's household-level segmentation system featuring data on consumer behavior, interests, demographic and psychographic information for relevant ad placement. The characteristics are applied across Acxiom's data on over 350 million people in the U.S, which are segmented into 70 unique clusters and 21 life stages. These segments include shopping, media, lifestyle, and attitudinal information.

Retargeting is paired with the behavioral component, which has been enabled through the Acxiom's purchase of behavioral ad network EchoTarget in September. The acquired company was quickly put to work to apply retargeting functionality to Relevance-X, which had been in development for about six months prior. The retargeting component allows advertisers to serve relevant ads to consumers who have shown interest in certain transactions, yet not converted. For example, if a consumer assesses airline ticket prices but doesn't purchase those tickets, an advertiser may serve ads for the same destination on sites in the network.

Ads are targeted across the Relevance-X network, which spans hundreds of sites and properties represented by several ad networks and exchanges. Acxiom reported the network has 60 percent reach. Acxiom is focusing on serving online display ads for now, but plans to expand to multi-channel functionality in the future.

"The key was having enough individuals on the Internet, and having enough Web sites in our domain to target them," said Rich Howe, chief marketing and strategy officer at Acxiom. "We worked on both and we now have enough inventory to offer a product to the marketplace."

Both behavioral targeting and retargeting can be combined to serve ads for similar destinations, or ancillary products. If a consumer purchases a trip to a ski resort, he may be served ads for ski equipment and cold weather gear.

Data are associated with online consumers through cookies. This is drawn from personally identifiable information the consumer volunteers when informed of a third-party cookie. The cookie is then anomymized to obfuscate any identifiable data from advertiser access.

Acxiom wouldn't name customers for the new service; however, Howe said the company strategy is to provide Relevance-X services to clients who have used Acxiom for up to 30 years. Still, the Little Rock, Ark.-based company won't limit the service only to existing direct marketing customers.

Howe sees the application of direct marketing-style segmentation and targeting to the online channel as the old becoming new. "On a Web site on the Internet, rather than using context to do targeting, [advertisers] use information about the individuals, life stage, or segment cluster," he said. "In direct marketing this is old news. The Web and the Internet has now evolved, making the old new if you will."

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