Three Factors in Planning a Behavioral Marketing Campaign

Last weekend, I attended what seemed like my 100th wedding this year. As with all the previous weddings I’d attended, there were a couple hiccups: the bride lost her veil and the guestbook. Even with months of planning, things didn’t go as smoothly as everyone had hoped. The couple still managed to say “I do” and is now honeymooning.

From this single guy’s perspective, planning for online media seems a lot like planning for a wedding. We plan and plan to make sure everything goes smoothly, but more often than not we run into a problem or an issue. Given that, what are some important things to watch for in our media planning process as we embark on using behavioral targeting as a media tactic?

As media tactics go, behavioral targeting is pretty straightforward. Create a segment based on specific behavior and target the segment, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We must also decide the budget allocation, what comprises a particular segment, and what sort of success criteria to examine post mortem. Although these aren’t the only things to look at, I’m hopeful the following will help in planning for a behaviorally targeted campaign.

Budget Allocation

Last summer, behavioral targeting hit a milestone of sorts: 24/7’s behavioral network reported amassing 45 million unique users. This is an important step in showing marketers can utilize behavioral targeting as a major tactic for any large-scale campaign (or will be able to in the very near future). But how much of the budget should an advertiser allocate when planning a campaign?

In a plan we just finished, we recommended about 22 percent of the media budget go toward behavioral targeting. To some, this may seem high. Studies point out, however, behavioral marketing works for both direct response and branding. Why not make it a major component?

Audience Segmentation

Beyond budget allocations, one of the most frustrating things in behavioral targeting is a lack of information. Sites don’t provide enough information about the factors that went into developing a particular behavioral segment. Since behavioral targeting is still in its infancy, this isn’t unexpected.

Yet it would be nice if publishers did a better job of explaining what behaviors constitute a particular segment. After all, we’re paying a premium for the right to target by behavior. Is it based on two pages visited? Three? A 30-day recency? A 15-day recency? We must ask these questions as publishers aren’t volunteering the information in their proposals.

Success Criteria

Once you’ve figured out the budget and audience segmentation, determine what the campaign’s success criteria will be. Will results be measured solely on clicks, post clicks, and conversions? Or will it be determined by brand lift and favorability? Some studies seem to tout the benefits for both.

I’d like to see more of how behaviorally targeted campaigns perform in terms of post-view events. After all, most conversions come from post-view-driven events, not clicks and post clicks.

There are other factors to consider in planning for a behaviorally targeted campaign. And no matter how much you plan, hiccups are bound to occur. The above factors should help make sure it’s a successful campaign, hiccups and all.

Chang is off this week. Today’s column ran previously on ClickZ.

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