Three Requirements for Behavioral Targeting

The recently released study by 24/7 Media shows behavioral targeting can improve campaign results, but those results still aren’t guaranteed. In fact, according to the study our expectations and hopes for behavioral targeting were probably a little high.

Regardless of these mixed results, exploring behavioral targeting still seems like a no-brainer. In the foreseeable future, behavioral targeting will enjoy steady growth and success, so long as the online ad market remains healthy.

But it can’t be everything to everyone. When should you leave behavioral targeting off the table? Better yet, what do you need to implement behavioral targeting?


Scalability has always been an issue in behavioral targeting. If your campaign segment is equivalent to U.S. users who visited the Joy Zipper Web site, forget about it. If your target segment is equivalent to people in market for a mortgage or a car, you’ll have better luck. The cost of targeting and implementation just can’t be justified for those Joy Zipper fans out there, even if yours truly falls into that segment.

Like any campaign, a certain amount of scalability in a behavioral targeting campaign allows optimization that can’t be achieved with smaller campaigns. Think of it as business-to-consumer (B2C) versus business-to-business (B2B). Sure, you can utilize behavioral targeting in B2B campaigns. But is it cost-effective, and is the segment big enough to target effectively and to make changes, if necessary?

A Conversion Goal

If you must pay a higher premium to target a segment, get some performance out of it. Whether you’re targeting through a behavioral network or a site-specific campaign, it only makes sense if the campaign can deliver tangible results that go beyond branding. Online media has always been held accountable; this is just an extension of that thought process. Conversion-based behavioral tools such as those utilizing cost per action (CPA) instead of CPM (define) might be better.

Frequency Cap

One of oldest metrics in the book has a whole new meaning when applied against behavioral targeting. Though behavioral targeting enables us to deliver on incremental reach against a target audience, it can also allow marketers to utilize frequency much more cost-effectively.

Figuring out a proper frequency cap for a campaign is one of the biggest headaches for marketers. In most cases, the frequency cap is dictated by the flighting of a campaign, the creative, and the audience’s overall usage patterns (i.e., reach vs. frequency). Unfortunately, we haven’t yet figured out how to cap frequency based on conversion. Behavioral targeting can help you run a more cost-effective campaign that helps minimize impressions delivered against those who’ve already converted.

I’m sure I’ve left things off this list, such as creative issues and retargeting. Can you think of others?

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