In a recent article, I had the opportunity to share the views from some top U.K. publishers on how behavioural targeting (BT) will grow and evolve in 2008. But it seems equally relevant to get the thoughts and outlook from the agency side -- after all, it is agencies that have helped shape the success of BT through testing and measurement.
Katie Eyton, head of online, Manning Gottlieb OMD
Historically, the majority of behavioural targeting opportunities have been set by publishers at a broad category level (e.g. motoring/car purchase). But in reality, a potential Porsche purchaser may have very different behaviour to a potential Fiesta purchaser. In 2008, behavioural targeting will evolve into something which is far more tailored to the individual brand, using existing client analytics data and customer segmentation to identify and target others with similar patterns of behaviour. This will be helped by the emergence of auction based sites which enable advertisers to target users based on activity across the web as a whole, rather than just on a closed network of sites.
James Sandoval, technology & analytics director, Neo@Ogilvy
Increasingly, behavioural targeting or, as I like to call it, advanced or precision targeting, will become a fundamental part of every web media plan in 2008. Or at least it should. A few things that will prevent advanced targeting opportunities from taking hold with agencies and advertisers in 2008 will be:
- Concepts: many media planners today just don't know how to move advanced targeting concepts into executable advertising solutions for their clients. This isn't to say that they never will, but it will take time. Planners need to work more closely with operations and analytics talent to beef up confidence and strategic thinking.
- Technology: I'm convinced that many media planners today don't really know much about the tools that are used every day to set up and manage web ad campaigns. And I am really not sure that they know much about the technologies that create audience segmentation and targeting opportunities on the publisher side either. Beefing up technology acumen, at agencies and at advertisers, will go a long way to empower buyers of web media to do it more productively.
Quantity versus quality: web advertising is and has been heavily in favour of the former for the 10 or so years that the industry has been around. And BT makes it even more so. Qualitative data, e.g. demographic and related, for planning and/or measurement, will continue to be important, but it is anonymous behavioural data that will grow this category of web advertising expenditure.
Publishers' audience behaviour + advertiser audience behaviour? Marrying anonymous publisher audience data from platforms like Revenue Science or nugg.ad with data collected by website analytics platforms like HBX, Omniture or Coremetrics, which feed into ad delivery rules in web campaign management platforms like Atlas or DoubleClick, would make for a powerful customer targeting solution.
ISP-based solutions: Phorm, nebuAd and Adzilla, to name a few, are very interesting and potentially very powerful platforms for web advertisers. It's still early days, but anything is possible. I'm watching this space closely.
Operationally, things will get tricky. Tracking and data strategies are core to great behavioural targeting initiatives. And it takes time to map out and operationalise the customer touch/data points for a programme. Only those agencies and advertisers that take a keen interest in and really learn about behavioural targeting technologies will be the ones who win.
Technology understanding and expertise is important but web creative will need to be approached in a dramatically different way, too. There's no sense in producing one message for six different customer segments. Web creative budgets need to grow significantly if advertisers and their agencies want to truly benefit from what web advertising has to offer today, keeping in mind that it will only get better.
Pratick Thakrar, interaction director, Mediaedge:cia
As behavioural targeting becomes an increasingly important part of the media planning process, there is a corresponding expectation of improved accountability. The need to track audience behaviour prior to conversion -- and against KPIs -- will put pressure on publishers and networks to track the digital journey beyond their sites as they seek to better understand and demonstrate the purchase pathway.
Expectations of greater accountability will continue to grow as more digital channels are trialed in 2008. There will be a need to compare audience behaviour, particularly across mobile and video, and to show the role each digital channel plays in the road to conversion.
Hugh Perkins, founding partner, White Spider Media
When we set up White Spider Media three years ago, traditional online campaigns still felt like the old broadcast-based model with the odd email or sponsorship thrown in. Whilst there is still a way to go before the industry has fully embraced the true promise of digital, what's really exciting is that at last agencies and clients are in a position to demand proper targeting -- hallelujah! 60 per cent of our client base is in the financial services arena but 100 per cent of them have bought into behavioural targeting. Segmenting audiences and data sharing is here to stay and will only improve this year. In the rather dry world of targeting independent financial advisers (IFAs), campaigns and click-through rates have already experienced remarkable improvement. Our task as planners is to ensure that any privacy concerns are dealt with by the simple expedient of getting retargeting right and using opportunities like behavioural targeting to provide the best engagement for our clients.
If anything, it appears that behavioural targeting is well adopted and that almost everyone has now moved into advanced concepts and effectiveness, but publishers and advertisers need to continue to sync creative with BT. Over and over, I hear from all corners of the market that the waterlevel has risen, and agencies feel that the publishers offering smart audience segments, innovative opportunities, and transparent communications across new platforms will provide the most value to the agency world moving forward. So whether you are a publisher, agency or service provider, the work looks to be more challenging than ever, but also just as rewarding.
Many thanks to these agency thought leaders for their time, and for all of the agencies that continue to drive the successful usage and innovation of behavioural targeting in the U.K. Jeremy Mason is managing director, European operations, Revenue Science, Inc.