It’s All About Targeting

A few months ago I wrote in this space that the predominant reason people click on ads is interest in the product advertised. Sweepstakes, curiosity-makers, and entertaining ads all have their place, but that place is in line way behind targeting.

It’s tough to keep up with all the latest techniques to serve your ads to the right person and boost your click-through rate, but if you make the effort, you’ll be glad you did.

Eighty-nine Percent Click for Product Interest

It is no secret that click-through rates have fallen to abysmal levels. Some 52 percent of all Internet users don’t click on a single ad in a given week, and only nine percent can be described as actively engaged with Internet ads clicking on nine or more ads per week.

In a nationwide poll, Internet users were asked what motivates them to click on ads, and the answer that truly stood out was product interest, with a remarkable 89 percent identifying this as a reason they click.

The Road Map to E-commerce Success

The road map is clear. To make online advertising and e-commerce work, you have to reach the people who are most inclined to buy your product.

So how do you get there? One method is rules-based personalization, a technology under which a cookie recording the surfer’s preferences is stored on his or her computer. The cookie acquires knowledge of these preferences through tracking the person’s movements on the web and from profiles he or she has filled out. Some of the leading vendors of rules-based personalization software are BroadVision, IBM, InterWorld, and Vignette.

Collaborative filtering technology from NetPerceptions and others enables a vendor to target users with content in real time. It does this through a combination of past purchase histories, analysis of click-throughs, and answers to questionnaires. With NetPerceptions’ software, a music site, for example, can calculate what a visitor is likely to buy and make appropriate recommendations for further sales and cross-sells, for instance recommending Sting’s newest CD to a guy who has bought two Police CDs and/or sought biographical information about Sting.

A Baltimore start-up called Advertising.com (formerly TeknoSurf) has devised a tracking system called AdLeann that serves ads based on such data as an ad’s success in attracting click-throughs. The company claims that its ads garner a click-through rate three times higher than the industry norm.

Staying Up-to-Date

The technology that enables you to accurately target an audience is changing weekly. How do you keep up?

Well, there are services you can subscribe to that track new developments. Also, a variety of web sites, such as The Industry Standard, eMarketer, and my favorite ClickZ, can also keep you abreast of the latest developments. Each also offers a daily newsletter.

However much you stay on top of current developments, the key is to remember the value of targeting. If you focus on serving the right ad to the right person, your results will be dramatically better.

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