Welcome Back for Good Behavior

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when considering behavioral targeting is to limit its scope. Typically, marketers consider targeting just on the publisher’s network, with the intention of getting consumers to click to the advertiser’s site. Once a consumer clicks, the marketer calls it a day and hopes for the best.

But let’s consider the following scenario.

A travel advertiser targets a consumer who has visited a site’s European travel section twice in a week. The next week, the consumer receives messages from the advertiser inviting her to travel at a discounted rate. After the third exposure, the consumer clicks on the banner and configures a one-week trip to London. Once the information is laid out, the consumer leaves the site without booking. The end.

Sound familiar? Let’s rewrite that ending.

The consumer leaves the site without booking. For the next three days, she receives marketing messages (in various media) with a time-sensitive discount package to London. The consumer, pleasantly surprised by the timing and offer, proceeds to the marketer’s site to book her trip and has a great vacation. Three months later, the advertiser uses remarketing (or pixel targeting, as some call it) to reach the customer again with other great offers.

Sound better?

Of course, it doesn’t always flow this smoothly. But the idea is behavioral targeting isn’t limited to the publisher’s network. The advertiser’s site is just as — if not more — integral to the process. Some advertisers only target consumers who visited their sites. For them, that’s the initial, most critical behavior they’re after.

For example, DRIVE Performance Media told me a client, a major U.S. hotel chain, utilized a targeting model that served impressions to consumers who had visited its site in the last three days. These consumers, who didn’t book a room, received messages within DRIVE’s network subsequent to their visit. Results show the cost-per reservation was 83 percent lower than the initial goal.

This type of remarketing technology isn’t new. DoubleClick has offered such a solution, Boomerang, since 1998. Boomerang, which works with DoubleClick’s DART management platform, allows marketers to retarget to prospects and customers across their media buys or within their sites. They target prospects or upsell existing customers based on non-personally identifiable actions the consumer has taken.

DoubleClick cites strong metrics to support Boomerang use, including an 88 percent increase in click-to-registration rates and 73 percent reduction in cost-per-registration leads.

No wonder that with these results, Advertising.com reports over a third of its clients already participate in remarketing. It expects that number to exceed 50 percent in 2006.

According to Eric Eller, director of behavioral targeting at Advertising.com, behavioral remarketing is one of the most effective buys an advertiser can run for lead generation and sales. “Typically, they [advertisers] are limited to optimizing site-side factors such as click paths and abandonment points,” Eller said. “But user retargeting allows them a second chance to bring a consumer back to their site, typically after they have moved from the research phase to the decision phase of the buying cycle.”

For category leader TACODA, this is still new space. TACODA sees the value in the technology and is launching a beta version of its solution, TACODA Encore, this month. However, according to Matt Arkin, SVP of advertising sales, marketers still hesitate to place third-party codes on their sites. He said their hesitation is primarily a result of a lack of understanding.

Another category leader, Revenue Science, remains 100 percent committed to supporting publisher-side behavioral targeting for the following reasons:

  • Publisher targeting casts the widest net.

  • It reaches consumers during the initial stages of their research.

What’s a media planner to do faced with so many options? First, stay open to it. Remarketing definitely adds a new dimension to an already cumbersome model, but, if it works, you’ll come out on top. Second, check in next month as we tackle some best practices when incorporating remarketing into the mix.

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