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  • Writer's pictureSamradni

Behavioral Targeting: How marketers make you feel special

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

The question is no longer around whether we focus on traditional media or digital media.

Most of us find the shift to digital media, not an option, but sort of compulsion.

One of the key reasons for marketers to work around digital media is the fact that it provides exclusivity.

What I mean by exclusivity is the fact that it’s possible to narrow down customers, understand their likes and dislikes, know if there is any gap that can be filled with your product, and then work around it.

One of the ways to do this is through the concept of Behavioral Targeting

What is Behavioral Targeting?

Behavioral targeting is a process that allows advertisers to target consumers by displaying ads based on their web search.

It involves analyzing the web search made by consumers and then showcasing your brands in the forms of ads, to grab the attention.

Let’s look at a story:

Anne is turning 18 next month and she’s still researching for that perfect gift she can ask for, from her parents.

Her friend Josh has these really cool set of headphones.

She had seen them in school and wanted them badly!

She started looking up for headphones on Amazon, and while there were 100s of options to choose from, she needed something very unique.

After an hour-long search, she decided to move back to her assignment essay.

While working on a google website, she could see an ad on the right side for ‘Boomer Headphones’, she loved the color and style and instantly clicked on the ad.

Here, ‘Boomer Headphones’ is using Behavioral Targeting, they know Anne is already looking for headphones, why not push our own brand?

What are the types of Behavioral targeting?

There are two types of Behavioral targeting

1. Onsite Behavioral Targeting

As the name suggests, this type of targeting happens directly on the site.

Say, for example, you are on an online shopping site, you might come across a few products which are placed on the top.

These are promoted products, making use of behavioral targeting technique

2. Network Behavioral Targeting

This is when a consumer’s intent is analyzed through multiple factors based on their web-behavior.

The ads are then targeted through various other sites that the consumer visits, nudging them for a purchase or a conversion.

What is the behavioral targeting process?

The Behavioural targeting process typically comprises of 3 steps, given below:

Behavioral Targeting process

Step 1: Data Collection

This is an obvious step, where we need to collect data from consumers.

The data is collected through multiple sources including but not limited to websites, mobile apps, CRM systems, and other marketing automation systems.

Information is collected in the form of following types

a) Demographics

b) Login information (How many times do you log in? The amount of time you spend on a website, etc.)

c) Depth of engagement/Session duration/Last engagement date etc.

Step 2: Segmentation

Based on the data collected, the users are then divided into clusters based on likes and dislikes.

For example, people who like chocolates will be put in one group and people who like cakes in another.

Step 3: Application of the data

Clearly, the ad campaigns are devised in a way that they specifically target those who are interested.

Now if I am selling chocolates, I will be targeting those who like chocolates, based on the segmentation above.

Importance of Behavioral Targeting?

1. Tailored Advertising

When an advertiser is using a tailored advertising approach, it not only helps the advertiser but as a matter of fact, it helps in better consumer experience as well.

It’s been observed through studies, that when a consumer is bombarded with multiple ads, they aren’t as affected when the ad is of their interest.

It also provides much better results with respect to a Cost Per Click campaign.

2. Retargeting

Retargeting is the concept of displaying ads multiple times to the same set of consumers. This works well because it's known that consumers are more likely to buy if they see a communication targeted towards them again and again.

3. On-site engagement

When consumers leave your website without a purchase, you have an opportunity to target these same set of people to re-consider your brand

4. Improved Conversion Rates

You as a consumer are more likely to buy something that’s displayed to you based on your needs.

Conversion Rates are improved because consumers react to these ads in a much better manner.

Difference between Behavioral targeting and Contextual Targeting?

The terms Behavioral targeting and Contextual targeting are used interchangeably, but actually mean different.

Let’s look at the difference between both

Behavioral targeting focusses on shoppers’ online behavior and the ads are placed accordingly.

However, when it comes to Contextual targeting, the ads are placed on specific pages where we know the consumers might anyway be interested.

So it’s not as ‘targeted’ with respect to usage, but more focussed on the platform on which the ads are placed.

So in short, Behavioral targeting is analyzing online behavior, while contextual focusses solely on the content of the website.

Behavioral Targeting Examples

1. YouTube

Behavioral Targeting Examples
Image Source: Screenshot of my YouTube account

One of the most common platforms for advertisers to incorporate behavioral targeting is YouTube.

All the ads that you come across before a video you wish to watch, are targeted.

I was searching for a hosting platform, and that data is saved to push hosting website ads towards me.

2. Flipkart

Behavioral Targeting examples
Image Source: Screenshot from my phone

This is my most recent experience.

I was looking for some gardening tools to buy online so I researched a little on Flipkart but eventually decided to buy from Amazon instead.

Better options, no other reason.

And browsing through Facebook later in the day, I come across this ad given above.

3. Amazon

Amazon follows a pattern similar to that of Flipkart, but it’s more to do from a Drip Marketing point of view. If you browse through and do not buy, you will soon receive an email as a prompt to go ahead and make your purchase.

To conclude, Behavioral Targeting is a great way for advertisers to connect with the right set of audiences and as a marketer, your focus must definitely be directed towards the same.


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