You’re just about to checkout when you notice a product recommendation that catches your eye. It’s something that you can use with the item that’s already in your cart, so you include it in your basket before you checkout. That’s a win for both you and the retailer at the same time: you were able to save time since you got to buy something that you needed without having to search through the site for it, and the retailer was able to squeeze in another sale to push their revenues up further.
This situation might seem familiar to you, although the words “behavioral targeting” might not.
The Definition of Behavioral Targeting
Before pushing forward, let’s define what behavioral targeting is. It is a set of techniques that are utilized by advertising networks, online publishers, and content providers to display relevant and targeted information to their site visitors.
When a user first visits a website that uses behavioral targeting technologies, information such as the pages they visit, the time they spend on each page, and the links they click on are recorded. The user’s interactions with others who are online or how they respond to the content are also noted. A profile for the user is then generated based on this data.
Behavioral Targeting in Action
Behavioral targeting is often used by e-Commerce websites and online retailers for product recommendations. Aside from these sites, blogs and content sites also use it to display related articles that might interest the user to continue reading or browse through the site’s archives. For example, after reading articles about “how to get over a breakup,” more articles that contain relationship advice will be displayed to the user on his or her succeeding visits.
Behavioral Targeting and Improving Conversions
Behavioral targeting increases conversions by giving your site visitors more of what they want to see or read about. Because of this, most blogs, news sites, and online stores have layouts where certain grids are reserved for dynamic content. This space is where highly targeted content is displayed—be it product suggestions, a list of article recommendations, or a relevant ad.
Onsite Behavioral Targeting
There are two ways that behavioral targeting can be applied: onsite behavioral targeting and network behavioral targeting.
Onsite network targeting is commonly used by e-Commerce sites and online retailers. It also applies to most online applications of the techniques if they are for the goal of increasing site conversions or for enhancing user experience. The first phase of the process involves the creation of generalized user profiles from information that has been pulled from the site’s visitors. Each profile will have a set of preferences and specifications associated with it. New users who visit the site will then be segregated into one of the profiles and have targeted content displayed for the duration of their site visit.
The technique can also be applied the other way around with the use of self-learning behavioral targeting engines, which provide relevant content in real time as the user browses through the site.
Network Behavioral Targeting
The second type of behavioral targeting is network behavioral targeting. This method is commonly used by ad servers, who naturally deal with larger groups of people. Because of the massive size of their user base, they are able to generate an approximate demographic makeup for the users on the sites in their network. Once the makeup has been determined, only ads that are relevant to the site’s audience will be displayed.
Both types of behavioral targeting are often used simultaneously to optimize both the site content and the ads that are being served.