Kanoodle to Target Sponsored Links Behaviorally

Search and sponsored links player Kanoodle will license technology and audience data from 24/7 Real Media to launch a behaviorally targeted ad network. Called BehaviorTarget, Kanoodle’s new offering marks the first time behavioral targeting technology will be used in a sponsored links environment, though at least one competitor is developing such a network.

The company will use 24/7 Real Media’s Insight XE analytics platform to create anonymous user profiles based on data collected across the BehaviorTarget network. Kanoodle advertisers will then be able to target customers based on their past Web behavior. The new offering competes with Tacoda Systems’ upcoming behaviorally targeted text ads network, called AudienceMatch.

The makeup of Kanoodle’s new behaviorally targeted network has yet to be announced; the company said it will make public several participating Web sites in the coming weeks and months. BehaviorTarget will join Kanoodle’s other two ad networks, the search-based KeywordTarget and the content-based ContextTarget.

Kanoodle’s new behaviorally-targeted links will appear on content pages rather than search results pages, although executives said there are no technical obstacles to deploying on search pages since the company’s ads now appear on alongside both search results and content. The main reason to serve behavioral ads only on content-pages is to prevent confusion on the part of Internet users, they said.

Since Kanoodle will also incorporate data from 24/7 Web alliance, the relationship may raise some issues of data ownership. Typically, Web sites stand to gain from allowing network owners to glean anonymous surfing behavior, since that data enriches later campaigns that are served on their sites. However, metrics gathered from Web properties in 24/7 Real Media’s network will now be used to target those sites’ audience members while they are surfing elsewhere, offering no clear direct benefit to the site from which the original data was gathered.

24/7 Real Media said this shouldn’t raise red flags for publishers in its network, since the data will flow both ways and data from Kanoodle’s new network, when it is launched, will also support 24/7 campaigns.

“We had a decision to make as to whether we were going to be an open company or a closed company about this — whether to provide data to other networks or not,” said David Hills, president of media solutions for 24/7 Real Media. “The system is set up so data will flow back and forth. Advertisers will have a more robust audience.”

Kanoodle executives said adding behavioral targeting capabilities via a technology licensing arrangement was key, since it obviated the need to build new technology. “Kanoodle can continue to do what Kanoodle does best, and build out our user interface,” said Kanoodle President Lance Podell.

24/7 Real Media said it chose to partner with Kanoodle because of the company’s distinct ad products, and because of the longstanding professional connections it has with the company’s leadership. Executives from both companies worked together at About.com, where Podell was general manager of About-owned Sprinks. Indeed, much of Kanoodle’s management was hired away from Sprinks after its sale to Google in late 2003.

24/7 Real Media is independently preparing to launch behavioral targeting capabilities on its own 24/7 Web alliance network, which covers approximately 700 Web sites and 50 million unique users per month. The company announced that undertaking last quarter.

Behavioral targeted networks are proliferating this quarter. Last month, aQuantive rolled out behavioral targeting as part of its new DRIVEpm product, which resembles a network, and Tacoda Systems is now assembling its behavioral targeting network, called AudienceMatch. Tacoda will also provide Burst! Media with the ASP version of its behavioral targeting software, the companies said today.

Behavioral targeting is a boon for big Web publishers that may now be able to sell lower-demand inventory, as well as for smaller publishers seeking ways to sell their audience, rather than their pages.

“Many pages are not currently targetable by context, including blogs and email. This opens up the content market incredibly,” said Podell.

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