Online Advertisers Next Step Is Behavioral Targeting

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 by Mistlee

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Online Advertisers Next Step Is Behavioral Targeting

By Michelle Greer

The idea of ads somehow understanding our lifestyles and behavioral patterns sounds kind of creepy at first thought. But according to a survey done by SEMPO, many search engine marketers are all about it.

The survey found that 57% of online advertisers polled were willing to spend more on demographic targeting, such as age and gender. Advertisers, on average, would pay 11% more for both behavioral and demographic targeting. While advertiser interest in behavioral targeting is very strong, actual investment is still low, according to the survey respondents.

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How does behavioral targeting work? Ads will track past search behavior in order to deliver the most relevant ads possible. Charter Communications, one of the nation's largest ISPs, has already planned for a pilot program to gather search behavior to share with ad networks. This program is set to be released next month.

Is behavioral targeting Big Brother-esque, or will targeted ads actually enhance the web browsing experience by providing us only with the ads we would want to see? Kevin Lee, a member of SEMPO's board of directors and its research committee, is optimistic. "The next best thing to an impression or click from a search result is the ability to serve a highly relevant and targeted graphical or textual ad to a consumer while they are still very interested in their search."

Although the FTC and others have raised privacy concerns regarding behavioral targeting, advertisers do indeed plan to use them. Some 40% of the respondents said they are not currently targeting or retargeting searchers but they plan to in the next 12 months.


About the Author:

Michelle Greer is an internet marketer/geek out of Austin, Texas. You can find her writings about ecommerce at and her social networking blog at

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