Two Large Ad Networks Embrace Behavioral Targeting

As demand for display advertising circles the drain, two of the Web’s largest ad networks have embraced behavioral targeting.

AdBrite and ValueClick have separately unveiled new ways to allow media buyers to reach their aggregated audiences based on prior online activity. But the two have taken notably different approaches.

AdBrite, which works with 70,000 sites active in its network, said it now allows marketers to deliver behaviorally targeted ads to consumers in 14 categories, and approximately 3,000 subcategories. Those categories include automotive, music, business & finance, and consumer electronics.

ValueClick Media, meanwhile, has unveiled a behavioral targeting approach based on an algorithm not tied to pre-defined categories. The company says the model significantly improves the value of the prospective buyers targeted in online ad campaigns.

The “Precision Profiles” technology is part of a new “Precision BT” suite, a package that also contains an improved version of the company’s user retargeting product. ValueClick Media’s predictive BT efforts have been in testingfor several months.

ValueClick is under pressure to improve network monetization. The company last week warned investors that it would miss its Q2 earnings targets and lowered its guidance for the remainder of the year, citing the economy’s impact on display advertising. Microsoft also said it has seen flagging demand for online ads.

In describing ValueClick’s approach, VP of targeting and optimization Joshua Koran noted most online BT relies on one of two models: the custom business rules method or what’s called a common cluster approach.

The cluster method, popularized by Tacoda, places site visitors into pre-defined segments. The custom business rules method, used by firms such as Revenue Science, lets marketers define their own segments. It can take into account the frequency with which a person takes similar action on a given day, allowing them to be in different groups on different days.

The problem is it requires testing and ongoing monitoring and decision making by human beings, ValueClick argues. Its technology automates that process and reacts to changes in real time by placing Web users into one or more interest segments based on the likelihood they will make a purchase in the future, as well as on their recent online behavior, including browsing, shopping and search.

The other segment of the new suite is an improved version of ValueClick Media’s “Precision Retargeting.” The system watches for visits to any of the 13,500 sites in ValueClick Media’s network by people who showed sales potential in the past. It then delivers tailored messaging.

Koran said one client, an online games company, tested Precision BT and achieved a 298 percent increase in conversion rates over a control group. The executives also cited a head-to-head comparison of mobile campaigns in which they said campaigns using the new technology outperformed those using other products by an 11-to-one ratio.

ValueClick Media says it plans to add more products to the Precision BT suite next year.

Zach Rodgers contributed.

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