How To Classify Types of Behavioral Targeting

Josh GordonYesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortium (BTSC for short) talk from Emily Riley, a senior analyst from Jupiter Research (which has now, as of January 1, been officially absorbed by Forrester Research). While Knotice isn't exclusively a targeting company (shameless self-promotion… find out about our software here), we have an active interest in technology being used for the best possible consumer experience. Given the increasing activity of consumer privacy advocates online, part of what contributes to a positive online consumer experience is using the correct, most descriptive definition of the types of behavioral targeting.

Riley provided some interesting commentary on the state of the so-called “behavioral targeting” industry. Lots of statistics get thrown around about how 50% of marketers prefer to use BT whenever possible, and consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to and accepting of these technologies. All that information is great and encouraging. But, without true, widely-accepted definitions of BT types, the growth and adoption of these technologies is stunted… and the decision makers in Congress who govern the impact of privacy laws on the industry will remain uninformed when passing laws.

With this in mind, I asked Riley how she would define the types of behavioral targeting. As a respected analyst and vocal expert on behavioral targeting, she has the power to influence the thinking in the industry, provide clarity, and leverage the “Standards” part of the BTSC to get everyone using the same terminology. The types of behavioral targeting she defined were behavioral, contextual, geographic and demographic. While her definitions do describe different approaches, they are more indicative of segmentation strategies than types of behavioral targeting. They are approaches to carving up the data and leveraging it to achieve a desired outcome.

The determining factor for a type of behavioral targeting should include both how and where the technology works. That’s why we’ve defined it as “network” and “onsite” targeting on The Lunch Pail. The difference is clear. Network is an affiliate approach while onsite targeting is limited to a specific website (and therefore sidesteps the ire of consumer privacy advocates).

Definitions are extremely important as the market for this technology, and the terminology that governs it, develops. It is vital at this stage to be cognizant that the attentive audience to this development process includes not just industry insiders, but lawmakers, privacy groups and consumers. Winning the PR battle now should be a primary consideration.

What are other ways to define behavioral targeting, and win the PR battle?

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