Ashamed not to be using shameful Behavioural Targeting? or The big bully in the marketing playground.

Behavioural targeting (BT) has got a bad rap. Plain and simple, we've got this advertising method that can give extraordinary value by targeting people with behaviours that we like and we’re ashamed if we’re using it. To understand why advertisers employing behavioural targeting are being shamed we must address how BT works.

Behavioural targeting (BT) has got a bad rap. Plain and simple, we've got this advertising method that can give extraordinary value by targeting people with behaviours that we like and we're ashamed if we're using it.

To understand why advertisers employing behavioural targeting are being shamed we must address how BT works.

Publishers and networks use web tracking to build an understanding of their audiences' behaviours and interests and then break those users down into groups and sells advertising based on targeting those groups. For instance, a site visitor clicks on "parenting" links throughout a site or performs searches using parenting terms and is thus identified as a "parent" and could be targeted with ads for a sale on children's clothing. In theory there is a better click through rate on these ads as well as a higher conversion rate, giving a better Return On Investment. For instance, Vauxhall's Insignia BT campaign increased brand awareness by 10.9%, online ad awareness by 12.6% and the intent to purchase by 7.9%.

Where the shame comes into play is the use of tracking. Privacy advocates are saying that there is a blurry line between collecting this data and a user's privacy rights. The problem is that people in general are not aware that they are being tracked for these purposes. To propel this problem the media has picked it up and turned behavioural targeting into the marketing playground bully. But, recently there has been some action from industry bodies in trying to provide guidelines for the use of BT. These guidelines will help consumers understand behavioural ads by using a bit of transparency, putting choices back into the hands of the consumer (by allowing them to opt out) and hopefully getting BT off the naughty step.

We look at behavioural targeting as finding people who are potentially looking for you. In that respect you are just presenting relevant and interesting opportunities to them, while capturing an interested audience. Research shows that consumers are becoming more comfortable with advertisers using browser history to serve ads (as long as the user remains anonymous).

If we place ourselves in the consumer's shoes, we would want to receive advertising that is as meaningful to us as possible and that is exactly what behavioural targeting seeks to achieve. Equator finds these audiences for our clients and gets relevant ads in front of the users with the highest propensity to complete the desired action. It's a win-win for everyone. Behavioural targeting may refine itself over time with guidelines and innovation but it is definitely here to stay - it just makes sense - you want to get the right ads in front of the right person at the right time.

It's certainly not the be-all-end-all of online display advertising but should be part of your strategy. Are you using behavioural targeting to maximise your campaign's potential? Speak to us and we'll help you integrate it into your campaign.