A Bright Idea? Kanoodle’s BrightAds Cookies Program

Kanoodle launched a program last week that represents an interesting new development in online advertising networks and behavioral targeting. BrightAds Cookies pays publishers to distribute Kanoodle’s targeting cookies regardless of whether they carry corresponding ads or not.

By collecting data on users who visit sites outside its own ad network, Kanoodle expects to target more relevant ads to those users when they visit sites that serve Kanoodle’s BehaviorTarget ads.

How Does It Work?

The program is designed to increase the relevance of Kanoodle’s behaviorally targeted ads by increasing the amount of data it collects about Web users. When someone visits a site participating in the program, a cookie assigns a behavioral segment to her based on that site’s content.

When that person later visits a site that serves Kanoodle’s BehaviorTarget ads, Kanoodle can target ads based on past behavior using the profile stored on the cookie. The data expires after 30 days and isn’t used to collect any personally identifiable information.

Good for Online Publishers

The program’s intent is to enable small and midsize publishers to monetize their content by providing access to their audience without adding advertising to pages.

This opens opportunities for e-commerce sites that don’t want to carry advertising that could distract users from shopping or completing purchases. It also opens up a revenue opportunity for sites that don’t accept advertising.

Participating publishers are paid 5 percent of the revenue earned from every informed click they deliver.

The End of User Privacy?

As with all cookie-based ad targeting, so long as clear disclosure is provided by participating sites and other choices are available, I don’t see a problem with it from a consumer’s standpoint. It’s certainly no more invasive than targeting ads based on the content of your personal email, as in the Gmail model; your past search results; or your use of a technology, such as RSS (define). All of these are used to target advertising already.

As with these and many other examples of on- and offline behavioral targeting, the purpose is to get to know the user’s interests better and to match messages and offers to them, making the advertising more relevant.

A Bright Idea?

Kanoodle’s new program is a true innovation in the behavioral targeting space, but it remains to be seen whether that matters. Some questions facing it include:

  • Will the network scale out to the extent required to yield better targeted advertising?

  • Will small and midsize online publishers opt in for what could be considered a small share of the pie (5 percent of the click fee)?
  • Will it really generate revenue for them?
  • Will it provide a sustainable competitive advantage, or will the other networks simply copy it?

Bottom line: Yes, I think Kanoodle’s new targeting network is a bright idea. But it will be some time before we know whether it will work in practice for all parties: consumers, publishers, and advertisers alike.

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