Creative Behavior

Here’s a sure-fire way to know if you’re doing a decent job with behavioral targeting: ask someone in your creative department if she knows what it is. In most cases, you’ll find one of the following:

  • She has no clue what it is.
  • She’s heard of it but doesn’t believe it impacts her.
  • She understands it very well and understands her role in creating successful behaviorally targeted campaigns.

A solid behavioral campaign must begin as collaboration between media and creative. If you plan to run, or are currently running, a behavioral campaign and haven’t mentioned it to your creative team, expect to see results below potential. Drive Performance Media reports campaigns that utilize targeted creative may recognize a 900 percent increase in campaign performance compared to generic messaging.

Several renditions of creative should be produced, particularly if remarketing is in the mix. I know of one rental car advertiser that produced 50 distinct ads for its behavioral campaign. In other words, make sure your project manager has budgeted appropriately and your creative team understands its role.

Behavioral targeting is relationship marketing. At each level, consumers provide personal information through their actions. Since consumers’ actions develop in real time, the marketer must respond appropriately and quickly at each level. This requires careful upfront planning.

One reason for multiple creative is behaviorally targeted campaigns are set at a higher frequency than typical, content-targeted campaigns. On average, a consumer may see more than 10 messages from a particular advertiser in a short time. Therefore, messaging must advance the conversation and relationship. Think of creative rotation in at least three pools:

  • Target content and keywords. If the behavioral identification begins on the publisher’s network, you must determine messaging and frequency for the initial contextual pages. If it’s a time-sensitive offer, your frequency level may be set at one. If the message doesn’t expire in a short time and you want reassurance your target is in-market (and didn’t accidentally stumble into that section), you may set frequency for two to three exposures.
  • Cast the net. Once consumers have left the contextual sections, creative and frequency play an even more important role. At this point, you need to grab consumers’ attention (remember, the message may not have anything to do with the pages they’re now on). One way to grab attention is to make the message relevant to their initial behavior. If they just came from the domestic travel section, for example, the message should be about domestic trips. Special offers are always attractive, and offers don’t always mean discounts. They may include opt-ins for additional information, newsletters, or invitation-only events.
  • Remarket. A consumer visits your site, but then exits without purchasing or registering. Fortunately, you’ve tagged your campaign for remarketing. Unfortunately, you forgot to assign specific creative for remarketing. What do you do? In most cases, you shouldn’t run the same creative as before. It’s like introducing yourself to someone with whom you just had a conversation. You’re better off not remarketing in this case. If you planned ahead, however, assign specific creative based on consumers’ actions on your site and any new information you may have on them.

It takes careful planning, testing, and collaboration to achieve strong results with behavioral targeting. If you’re still confused about how this may look in action, check out the example below of what an insurance company may choose to do. Work with your creative team in laying out a similar model and see what you end up with:

  • Target content and keywords. The consumer visits the insurance section of a site where advertiser X serves a generic insurance ad. The consumer gravitates toward the long-term-care insurance section.
  • Cast the net. The consumer leaves the insurance section and visits the news section; advertiser X, who has now identified the consumer as a prospect for long-term-care insurance, serves four to five ads related to long-term-care insurance. After the fourth exposure, the consumer clicks the ad.
  • Remarket. The consumer begins filling out an application for a quote but exits the site before completing it. The advertiser remarkets to the consumer with an ad that provides downloadable information on the benefits of long-term-care insurance. The consumer clicks the ad and opts in to receive a white paper on the benefits of long-term-care insurance. Later that week, the consumer finishes the application process and requests to be contacted by a representative.

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