How Will Behavioral Behave in 2005?

As someone who shies away from popular radio and MTV, I tend to discount most popular music out there. So it was with some disappointment I discovered The Killers only several weeks back. Despite the disappointment of finding a band a little too late, I’m otherwise happy to see advertisers and publishers discovering behavioral targeting later, if not sooner.

Although there are still lots of questions surrounding behavioral targeting, 2005 will in all likelihood will be a pivotal year as online ad spending continues to grow. All projections point to 2005 being better than this year. What does this mean for behavioral targeting? Will we see the enormous growth some are predicting? Only time can tell, but we do know increasingly more advertisers are dipping their toes into the behavioral space. This can only mean it will continue to evolve and mature as an online media tactic. As TACODA Systems’ Dave Morgan wrote here recently, new solutions are already in the works for behavioral targeting applications with targeting to look-alike segments and life-stage targeting.

With that, here’s where I think behavioral targeting will head in the New Year.

Reach and Frequency — or, Rather, Just Frequency

Yes, one of oldest metrics in the book will have a whole new meaning when applied against behavioral targeting. Though behavioral targeting has enabled us to deliver on incremental reach against a target audience, it has the potential to allow us to utilize frequency in a much more cost-effective manner.

For most marketers, one of the biggest headaches is figuring out a campaign’s proper frequency cap. In most cases, the frequency cap is often dictated by the campaign’s flighting, its creative, and the overall usage patterns of a site’s audience (i.e., reach vs. frequency). Unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to frequency-cap based on conversion. That could help advertisers and marketers run more cost-effective campaigns and minimize impressions delivered against those who’ve already converted. No, this wouldn’t work for every advertiser. But in an age where accountability is critical, it could be a compelling argument for why online advertising is such a valuable component in any marketer’s arsenal.

Let’s Bring B2B Back to B2C

Anyone who’s worked on a business-to-business (B2B) account knows the frustrations that come from working with B2B or trade publications. Though I don’t work on B2B accounts at present, I have in the past and know all too well the headache that comes with the territory. Working with B2B sites often carries problems, such as tighter inventory and CPMs (define) that look abnormally high. It’s frustrating.

Similar to creating a look-alike target segment, behavioral marketing would allow consumer Web sites to target against a group that’s usually unavailable to their advertisers. Advertisers would enjoy a new opportunity to advertise on consumer sites against a B2B target audience.

Media Centers/Mobile Media Centers

Yes, media centers have yet to take off and no one really knows if they ever really will. If they do, they would provide advertisers with an opportunity to target across various media channels under various behavioral segments. As TV and radio become increasingly IP-based, targeting will take on a level of sophistication we currently only see on the Internet.

Sure, some of this might seem like a pipedream, but there’s one thing I can predict with certainty: If we continue to see advertisers become more involved with behavioral targeting, some of this will become reality — sooner rather than later.

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