Behavioral to Audience
Behavioral to Audience: The Change that Has Defined Online Advertising
As CEO of a fast-growing international ad network, I have noticed many trends, and many changes throughout the years. In my mind, the most recent and notable change that the industry has experienced has been not so much on the technological side, but more so the transition in targeting and ad models from behavioral targeting to audience-based targeting efforts.
Posted on Jul 24, 2011 |For those readers who are new to the online advertising space, behavioral advertising is a highly targeted form of advertising where advertisers collect data from the behavior of the user on the Internet a series of websites that an individual has visited, his or her location, etc. under the idea that such advertisements will trigger a higher level of consumer interest. The behavioral strategy rose to new levels of popularity a few years ago, and quickly became the standard for how online advertising was being executed. Under the behavioral system, marketers target certain users that match the behavioral criteria they are looking for. However, this system presented several challenges to advertisers, and marketers were soon forced to search for the “next” best thing. For example, volume and pricing suffered in the behavioral system, and as a result, performance wasn’t as good as expected, as it was anticipated to be extremely better than average. In reality, the performance rates were a fraction of that, on average. So, as advertisers search for “what’s next”, the new shift in strategy and focus has been to take the behavioral model one step further. Online advertisers are now focused
not just solely on collecting data from individuals, but rather to target a more specific audience. Under the new audience targeting model, advertisers can focus directly on very specific, niche audiences that represent highly-targeted lead sources for their brands. For example, the audience model enables advertisers to zone in on male vs. female students if they’re executing a campaign for an education company, or west coast vs. east coast consumers if they’re doing a project for a regionally-focused brand. Overall, the audience targeting model has risen in popularity and garnered more successful results for the advertisers that use it because it prioritizes relevant, highly-targeted content that would be of interest to the consumers first and foremost.
Audience based advertising has proven to be a fantastic concept overall, as well as a breath of fresh air for the audience, the advertising agencies and the brands they represent.
Another trend that has come about recently under the audience model is “brand safe” advertising. Following legislative changes and an increased priority on aligning brands’ online advertisements with content and audiences that are representative of the standards of that given brand, the “Brand Safe” model has risen to prominence under the audience targeting system. Under the “Brand Safe” model, Web sites are reviewed ad scrutinized by the agency before the ads are placed in order to protect the brands involved and their reputation. If the site then doesn’t comply with the brand standards the ad will not be shown. This also ensures complete transparency to all parties involved.
Brand safety is working now primarily on English-only platforms, however one major change I foresee is that this platform will become available in other languages as the demand for it continues to increase. For example, at our company, we have already started working hard to have brand safety capabilities in Spanish for marketers geared toward the Hispanic American, Latin American and Spanish-speaking European audiences.
Undoubtedly, online advertising has changed dramatically over the past few years, as we’ve seen advertisers change their focus away from a behavioral to an audience targeted model. The end result has been a more relevant, healthier and content-driven online advertising landscape, which overall, has certainly helped the industry, not to mention, made the competitive landscape even that much more fierce. The call to advertisers is even greater now than it has ever been, and as we head into the future, there are still a lot of uncertainties – however, based on what we’ve learned over the past few years, one thing is for certain – relevant content is king!