Leverage Rich Media for Behavioral Targeting

Observed and tracked consumer behavior can be aggregated to assemble profiles that segment the audience for more relevant promotion. What, then, could be more relevant than how those consumers interact with an ad itself?

Rich media ad suppliers were way out in front of the behavioral targeting movement when they began to report on and optimize against consumer interaction patterns years ago. At the time, the data existed in a silo and could be used only to improve the rich media campaign you were running. As behavioral targeting becomes more sophisticated, we turn again to the capabilities of rich media vendors to supply a layer of consumer information that’s not available from publishers and might yield interesting, actionable insights when incorporated into a behavioral program.

Rich media delivers detailed, measurable data on audience interaction and behavior with online advertising. Specific behaviors may vary, including how consumers interact with an ad, how long they spend viewing it, and engagement levels with what they click on or view during different parts of the day. Consumers can encounter a rich media ad in a variety of formats, including expandable or floating ads, video, animation, even game play. Some rich media ads facilitate polling or community functions. Though these highly interactive features have presumed marketing value in their pure communication, they may also yield information that further segments users.

So who’s capturing this data, what are they doing with it, and how does it affect the consumer?

Third-party vendors such as Eyeblaster and PointRoll provide tools to identify a user’s actions within an ad. Similar tools are available through ad servers, such as Dart Motif and Atlas Rich Media. The metrics established from such behavior enable advertisers to target campaigns and increase consumer interaction and action. In a recent InsightExpress study, results favor rich media: brand awareness increased by 299 percent, ad favorability by 108 percent, and purchase intent by 77 percent.

Campaigns with rich media generate substantially greater brand recognition and sales activity than campaigns without it. Behavioral targeting substantially increases the return on advertising dollars. How accelerated might a campaign be if you behaviorally targeted highly effective rich media ads, then fed the campaign interaction data into the behavioral targeting profiles?

Eyeblaster offers a behavioral-based ad tool that identifies a user’s actions within an ad and follows up with targeted content after repeated exposure. With all the news on behavioral targeting, doesn’t that sound familiar?

These interaction rates dictate how advertising networks can optimize to better serve consumer tastes. Specific Media, for example, uses its targeting technology to serve video ads to the right users. It gathers its initial interaction data through a third-party vendor and optimizes by coupling it with performance data.

Advertising.com similarly optimizes on interaction rates with PointRoll. Through this partnership, it can track and optimize the interaction rate with rich media internally. The data aren’t yet incorporated into its AdLearn system for placement optimization in behavioral campaigns, but this type of integration will most likely come in the future.

Chris Saridakis, CEO of PointRoll, is passionate about what rich media can add to a behavioral program. “Rich media technology has brought a whole new dimension to behavioral targeting,” he said. “We’re seeing more creative agencies building out multiple rich media ads that they can deploy based on how a user interacts with the initial ad unit and related content. That activity, combined with other targeting criteria available with behavioral targeting engines, creates a powerful tool for marketers. Furthermore, companies like Ad.com are using PointRoll to offer more targeted messaging to a user based on what that user did within the PointRoll ad unit.

“We’re also seeing many agencies optimize campaigns based on unique metrics, like interaction to conversion,” he continued. “While it’s great to look at impression to conversion, we’re now seeing a trend that tracks user’s behavior in the ad unit and that same user’s behavior back at the advertiser’s Web site.”

Most networks haven’t fully integrated rich media interaction data into their behavioral optimization capabilities. Many still equate rich media with branding campaigns and behavioral targeting with direct response. That doesn’t mean it’s not well worth advertisers implementing this information into their research. What it boils down to is using rich media data to fuel behavioral targeting placements could provide the optimal program for advertisers to best understand and motivate their audiences.

And who doesn’t want that?

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