BrightRoll Adds Behavioral to Video Ad Targeting

Video ad net BrightRoll will offer behavioral targeting to its in-stream and in-banner advertisers, and will partner with a variety of data sellers to do it. As video networks and sites add behavioral to the mix, its value to advertisers remains unclear.

The company argues that, as consumer adoption of online video has increased, there is enough reach in its network to warrant targeting based on behavioral data, which typically requires more reach and frequency than other forms of targeting to be successful.

Calling the offering, “very logical,” and “an expected evolution of the category,” BrightRoll CEO Tod Sacerdoti told ClickZ News advertisers and agencies have been testing behavioral targeting in the network over the last few months. He also believes that advertisers will be willing to pay more to target video ads against such data.

“We never run into the challenge now of executing buys,” he said. “It’s a way for us to work with high-priced inventory. The category as a whole is [priced high],” he added.

The network also enables targeting based on audience data including demographics, age, and ethnicity.

Razorfish VP Media Sarah Baehr said she is not convinced that behavioral targeting in video ad networks provides enough necessary context for advertisers. “It doesn’t take context into consideration,” she said, speaking on in-stream network behavioral targeting in general. “Yes, you can identify particular behaviors that are relevant to the product you’re trying to sell…but I question the fact that someone in-market for a blender is going to click on an ad unit [about something irrelevant to the video content].”

However, she suggested, “It makes sense to provide advertisers with a more targeted way to reach their best consumers.”

Sacerdoti said the majority of campaigns that run in the network are not targeted based on context; rather, demographic data such as age and gender drives much of the targeting.

Behavioral in-stream video ad targeting is not exactly new. AOL has offered it through its Advertising.com network since it acquired video ad firm Lightningcast in 2006. More recently, Hulu, a video site co-owned by News Corp., NBC Universal, and Disney that features long-form TV content, partnered with AudienceScience in July to enable behavioral targeting. Video ad network YuMe also offers behavioral targeting.

Like other behavioral firms, BrightRoll will gather data from multiple providers including BlueKai and Exelate. “There is much better data from third parties than there are from proprietary sources,” said Sacerdoti, adding that, “some of the best data available is coming from offline data providers.”

According to BrightRoll, no advertisers using the new behavioral offering were willing to discuss their use of it. Indeed, it’s often difficult to get advertisers to agree to speak about any advertising initiative. Yet, in the case of behavioral targeting, it has become especially difficult as consumer privacy watchdogs and government entities have put more pressure on the behavioral ad sector, particularly when it comes to online data collection and use.

Noting the need for “some form of transparency,” Sacerdoti said, “If every ad we served had to have a link on it where you could find out what data sources were used, we’d be totally fine with it.”

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