iEverywhere: Behavioral Targeting on the Go

The description for OMMA Behavioral, a conference next week, states that behavioral marketing is “no longer a matter of tracking car buyers as they travel into lifestyle sections. Digital technologies now render a wealth of data about user habits that both marketers and publishers are only beginning to explore.”

Hallelujah! It seems like we’re finally getting somewhere and behavioral advertising is evolving into more than a lonely line item in a planner’s Excel sheet.

A track that caught my attention is labeled, “Make My Profile To Go: Data Portability and the Future of Privacy,” which is dedicated to exploring the idea that consumers have the ability to move, share, and control their identity and personal data online. In reality, most consumers probably care less about logistics of moving the data and more about the implications of it.

As consumer information proliferates, it also creates opportunities for marketers. Data portability is apropos at a time when consumers have peeled their masks (or created a new ones) and are logging every moment of it through technology. There’s an unprecedented amount of information available ranging from a consumer’s interests to where they are at this particular moment.

Why should data portability matter to marketers? It has the potential to provide marketers with a long-term relationship with consumers that can evolve over time, in various locations. On the other hand, if executed poorly, it can sever a relationship with a consumer over time, in various locations.

Let’s start with the basics, what is data portability?

Data portability is a loaded term, but its application is meant to save consumers time by creating a virtual warehouse of information in one central source. For example, if you’re connected to someone on Facebook, then you’ll automatically be connected with the same person on LinkedIn or MySpace if you’re both members of these networks.

However, the issue for many consumers is becoming overly exposed and losing control over their personal information. For example, if one is connected to a colleague on LinkedIn, a professional platform, they may not necessarily want to be connected to that person on Facebook.

In May, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, which allows members to run Facebook through other Web sites (i.e, “Facebook to Go”). Members take their identity and social status wherever they go while being protected under Facebook’s privacy terms.

Facebook Connect and data portability, in general, serve many purposes for behavioral targeting. First and foremost, they create a permission-based environment where consumers can opt-in to receive messages from marketers. No more trying to decipher the intentions of a cookie.

Once consumers provide permission, then marketers can communicate with their prospects over multiple channels in a transparent and dynamic manner. In a nutshell, it allows everyone to behave like an adult. Everything is out in the open and, if treated properly, creates a mutually beneficial situation. Also, this is meant to be a long-term proposition; therefore, the opportunity for marketers to make a good first impression is paramount.

For behavioral marketing to work in this format, however, consumers and marketers must behave responsibly. Consumers must stay aware of the information they’re sharing and marketers must provide value in return for being invited to share in this highly personal information. If done properly, this can be a long-lasting relationship. Ultimately, consumers are in control and will dictate the terms, but, as privacy gets redefined online, so does the relationship with marketers.

The information consumers are providing in dynamic, portable format is only going to increase as even the shyest among us join the bandwagon. For example, take Apple’s new 3G iPhone, which has a built-in GPS; forget status statements on networking sites indicating your friend is at a networking party or at a Rolling Stones concert, now we’ll know for sure.

We’ll even know the more mundane, for example, how much time one spends at home. However, if your friend’s home is within a mile radius of a Pizza Hut and it’s dinnertime — and you’re Pizza Hut — then the opportunity to serve an appropriate offer for perhaps $5 off and free bottle of Coke may be in order.

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