Contextual advertising is a big step toward reaching specific groups of people, but it’s not nearly
enough. With today’s technology, a much more targeted advertising method should be possible,
one that works within the confines of the medium that potential customers are using. In many
cases, that medium ends up being the Internet. And of all the places where advertisers can reach
highly qualified potential customers, the Internet is the best, as long as the targeting methods are
appropriate for the audience.
What Is Behavioral Targeting?
In addition to contextual targeting, another method of reaching a narrower, but more qualified, group
of potential customers is demographic targeting.
For example, if you’re trying to sell a music sharing service, your main target age group might be
the 18- to 25-year-old crowd. But if you’re advertising a drug used to treat sickle cell anemia, you
can further target your advertising to 22- to 35-year-old African Americans.
As effective as demographic targeting can be, however, it’s still not the best way to reach highly qual-
ified leads on the Internet. What works much better is behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting is a
relative newcomer to advertising targeting. It’s the practice of serving ads to users based on their past
search behaviors and web-surfing habits. And even though behavioral targeting is fairly new, it’s get-
ting a lot of attention from web marketers.
Behavioral targeting is so effective because search marketing has expanded so much. In the past,
search marketing was only about search. Today, search marketing can target demographics, day-
parting (addressed in Chapter 9), and behavior. And because today’s audiences are more frag-
mented than they have ever been, the more specific marketing efforts can be, the more effective
Behavioral marketing has many other benefits, too. For example, although behavioral targeting results
in fewer impressions, it also results in a higher conversion rate, because the ad is more targeted than a
contextual ad might be. Additional benefits of behavioral targeting include:
Click-throughs are those times when potential customers or site
visitors click through your PPC (or other) ad and land on your site.
As you’ve seen already, behavioral targeting tends to reach fewer
people, but it results in more goal conversions. Because your goal conversions should
be designed to result in either a sale or the collection of data to help you reach a sale,
the conversion rate for ads placed using behavioral targeting is much higher.
Improved return on investment.
Return on investment is the metric that seems to drive
everything these days. Behavioral targeting helps to improve the ROI of your PPC and
other advertising programs, because ads placed using behavioral targeting are more pin-
pointed to the type of audience that is most likely to make a purchase, provide data, or
sign up for a newsletter or other service.
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