Invite Your Audience to a Behavioral Targeting Party

With the holidays coming up, I’m sure you’ve received loads of party invitations. Besides the usual company Christmas party (parties, if you have a soft spot for gratis feeding and drinking frenzies like me), there are invites to various New Year’s Eve galas and sundry events. Or perhaps you’ll host a party yourself and are currently planning all the details.

Party planning can be hectic. You hope everyone invited will come to your bash rather than someone else’s (competition is fierce!). A good soiree invite has the most well-thought out details for the guests. During a recent party-planning session, I realized drafting a party invitation is very similar to planning a behavioral targeting campaign. Before launching a behavioral targeting campaign, consider the four main elements of a party invitation: who, what, where, and when. It seems so common sense, but we sometimes forget the basics amidst the complex client engagements.

Define the Who and What

Like a good media plan’s structure, a behavioral targeting campaign requires clearly defined targets and parameters to realize its full potential. This means we must first know who we are reaching (the target) and what to expect (the behavior) to establish appropriate success metrics and set the right expectations.

Specify what constitutes a behavior to determine what should be tracked and analyzed. Prior to launching the campaign, ask these questions: Who are the targets and what are their identifiable behaviors? Are the defined behaviors characteristically representative of the target audience? Are those really behaviors, or are they just circumstantial actions? And, do the defined behaviors have a large enough universe to be tracked? Know why you’re using behavioral targeting before incorporating it into the overall media mix. Different objectives might require custom-defined behaviors to provide unique results.

Note, too, that an online action can result from a whimsical or accidental browse. Users can frequently be enticed or deceptively prompted to click on a banner and visit a site. Besides the obvious danger of analysis-paralysis, examine the validity of the clickstream data before falsely qualifying an accidental action into a potential behavior. Unclear objectives often lead to excessive data collection, which ultimately hinders marketers’ ability to understand consumer patterns and trends.

Consider the When and Where

A recent DoubleClick/comScore Media Metrix study finds certain sites’ audience patterns are directly affected by their content offerings. If this is the case, advertisers should be conscious of their scheduling tactics in relation to audience behaviors. In other words, a site’s content and the time of the media delivery significantly affect audience behaviors.

It’s extremely important to remember online behaviors could be predetermined and influenced by the type of site and the site’s navigational layout. We need to holistically understand behavior from both a macro-level and a micro-level. “Macro” represents all the external factors that may affect consumers’ actions, such as politics and economics, as well as various site-specific determinants.

According to the DoubleClick study, heavy Internet users exhibit very different behavioral trends and patterns from light users. Before analyzing and interpreting begins, these patterns must be entered into the overall equation to make the most accurate assessment.

What Does It Mean for Online Media?

As marketing professionals, we constantly quest for the media holy grail, whether it’s a new targeting capability and channel or the next innovative technology. We perpetually search for that next thing to improve our messaging/offer delivery to the targeted segment.

Behavioral targeting has certainly become the current fascination, but it’s not a panacea for waning campaign performance or mediocre media competence by any means. Successful utilization of behavioral targeting requires tactful planning to realize campaign potential.

In the spirit of the holiday season, think about the four main elements of a party invitation. As internationally acclaimed organization psychologist Ian Percy once said, “We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” Before you become mesmerized by behavioral targeting’s promises and blindly jump on the industry bandwagon for your clients, make sure you truly comprehend the objectives and planning parameters. Behavioral targeting is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Anyone can host a party, but no one will show up if your invitation has the wrong details.

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