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The Online Advertising Playbook: Proven Strategies and Tested Tactics from The Advertising Research Foundation by Robert Barocci, Taddy Hall, Steve Rappaport, Joseph Plummer

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Behavioral Targeting

What happens when you surprise viewers by showing them ads in unexpected places for brands that might be relevant to them? That’s the concept behind behavioral targeting, and interest in this targeting approach is building fast. Spending growth more than tripled from $285 million in 2003 to $925 million in 2005, and is forecast to reach $2.1 billion in 2008, according to eMarketer (2006a). Auto advertisers are early adopters.

On sites like NYTimes.com, individuals in different stages of car buying can be reached in areas that do not have a natural affinity for autos but are of interest to auto-shopping consumers based on tracking their site visiting (Meskaukas 2003).

Ad networks’ cookie tracking capabilities allow them to trace the patterns of sites, clicks, and pages viewed of people visiting properties across their network. Although the tracking is anonymous—they don’t know it’s you specifically—the networks detect that you went to the branded site for Automaker X. Then it was on to auto research site Autobytel.com, followed by a niche site for independent music and a quick download. Before leaving this particular network, you visited a child care site for some timely advice on getting a reluctant toddler to take a nap. From these behaviors, networks deduce that you’re parenting, you’re interested in Automaker X products, and you’re an indie music lover. You are much more than a collection of demographic values now; your web behavior has a pattern that has ...

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