Behavioral Matchmaking, Part 1: TiVo and Behavioral Targeting

Discussions are an important part of my workday. Mostly, I discuss planning strategies, tactical executions, client expectations, and objectives. I also have the pleasure to talk with people about ideas, ideas that can transform and improve existing reality and ideas about what could and should happen in the near future.

No matter how big or small, how strategic or tactical, innovative ideas are spawned directly from the interactive process of discussion. One of my favorite exercises with my team is the “matchmaking brainstorm.” We talk about the future of media, possibilities of different technologies converging, and potential effects on marketing.

I want to extend this matchmaking discussion with you in regard to how behavioral targeting can evolve. Maybe some of these ideas already exist or are in the works. In any case, I’d like to get away from discussing actual applications and benefits of behavioral targeting for the next few columns. Instead, let’s focus on future perspectives for behavioral targeting.

In other words, I’d like to use this matchmaking process to brainstorm on where behavioral targeting is going, where it should be going, and who it should partner with to get to the next level.

To kick off the first round of matchmaking, let’s talk about TiVo and behavioral targeting.

Physically Different, Mentally the Same

If you’re reading this column, I’ll assume you’re familiar with the company called TiVo and DVRs (define).

We all know the DVR’s fundamental capability is the ability to digitally record and play back (almost-) live TV. One primary DVR feature is a quality that approaches artificial intelligence. The technology monitors the user’s content preferences, and based on that historical data it logically and methodically makes recommendations of other programs with similar content. In essence, the DVR uses historical actions to establish behavioral patterns and formulate predictive optimizations to make content more relevant to individual users.

I don’t know about you, but doesn’t behavioral targeting ultimately promise the same thing; relevant messages and offers to targeted audience?

Besides the fact DVRs have tangible hardware to house the technology, the bottom-line function and purpose are identical to behavioral targeting. Both technologies are based on monitoring and collecting consumers’ behaviors and actions. Both rely on interpretations of these patterns to create a user-relevant environment.

The DVR, or TiVo, as many of us call it, has a very similar technological platform to behavioral targeting’s. If the DVR becomes the standard for TV consumption and behavioral targeting becomes the new media paradigm (and I strongly think they will), shouldn’t we try to use them in conjunction with one another to create a truly integrated online/offline database and understand cross-media consumer behaviors?

Behavioral Targeting, Meet TiVo!

What if we can extend behavioral targeting from online to offline?

Research consistently shows men ages 18-34 watch less TV and go online more. But research also says people who own DVRs watch more hours of TV. Maybe people don’t just watch more TV (since they can skip commercials), but they watch it differently (because they control the schedule), at different times (customized and managed to their availability and leisure), and only the programs they want to watch. It resembles opt-in permission to exchange personal information for tailored, relevant content.

Behavioral targeting and DVR are ultimately about the consumer. Allowing people to consume what they individually deem relevant will only increase product affinity, as well as conversions (whatever form that might take). From a marketer’s perspective, appropriate use of personal identifiable information (PII) not only reduces wasteful impressions, it also increases privacy.

It seems so logical, yet it’s not yet a reality.

What Does This Mean for Online Media?

TiVo revolutionized the way we watch “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” We no longer have to stay up late or rush home to view our favorite programs. They’ve been digitally recorded (sometimes predictively, according to our viewing behaviors) and are archived for leisurely consumption.

DVR will eventually become the new TV consumption standard, just as behavioral targeting will eventually become the paradigm for online media. For marketers, if the goal is to gain deep understanding of the consumer psyche and truly understand consumers’ needs and behaviors, imagine integrating online behavioral data with offline DVR user preferences.

Consider behavioral targeting benefits compared to the advantages of a DVR. The tagline, “You have a life. And TiVo gets it,” flows into online media in more ways than one.

In part two: search and behavioral targeting.

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