Trend Spotting in 3 Chapters: What's New in Behavioral Targeting
Tracking trends in behavioral targeting is a study in contradictions. While businesses are wary of controversy, they're crowding into this space of tracking consumer behavior. And while consumers dread being tracked online, they resist barriers to "free" content.
Added to the fray are entities that want to help both direct marketers and consumers. The Federal Trade Commission is leaning toward less behavioral targeting on the Internet, while trade associations want to help businesses regulate themselves so the practice can continue.
Finally, those in the know say that many companies and consumers still don't understand the true nature of behavioral targeting.
Here to clear up a few misconceptions and provide an update on the contested but increasingly popular practice are:
- Rob Becker, vice president, account service group, of Richardson, Texas-based KnowledgeBase Marketing.
- Alan Chapell, president of New York City-based Chapell & Associates, a privacy and interactive strategy consulting firm.
- Lisa Cross, senior consultant, business development, at Weymouth, Mass.-based InfoTrends, which performs market research and strategic consulting for the digital imaging and document solutions industry.
- Michael Fisher, senior vice president of sales and marketing, The Americas, of UK-based marketing software provider Alterian.
Chapter One: Misconceptions.
Behavioral targeting may be based less on personal data and more, as the word implies, on behavior.
Cross provides this insight: "Behavioral online targeting is child's play when compared to decades old offline targeting practices that are based on real addresses, names and financial information. Direct marketers buy mailing lists that detail such personal information as home addresses, children's ages, purchase history, home addresses and mortgage payments. These commonly accepted tactics appear a whole lot scarier than tracking the activity of a Web browser, yet they have inflicted no harm."
Chapell adds: "I think the biggest issue for companies that come from a traditional direct [marketing] mindset is understanding that the regulatory environment is significantly different for [online behavioral advertising]. In traditional DM, (with the exception of sensitive data such as that found in a credit report) you can do almost whatever you want to do with data. Having dealt with dozens of offline companies over the years, they are often very surprised by the number of rules they need to adhere to in the online world … "