December 13, 2012

Improving Behavioral Targeting Behavioral targeting is the standard for ad targeting and dynamic content serving but in spite of good automation tools and easy-to-use CMS systems, we still haven’t fully cracked the code. Re-marketing and triggered messaging delivers much better response and significant uplift in conversion; usually better than the original targeted message. Behavioral targeting gives us the ability to zero-in hyper-efficiently on those with a higher propensity to buy in real time. But there are no clear formulas to determine what inferences can accurately be drawn from demonstrated behavior. We’re still guessing wrong too often. We have to evaluate and engage anonymous surfers and clickers and, like Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system, we must determine in seconds who is worth following and engaging and who isn’t. Consider 3 basic criteria for evaluating or scoring behavior. Repetitive Behavior Someone who does the same thing again and again or visits the same content repeatedly is probably more interested than the average Joe. It’s reasonable to guess that someone returning for a 3rd click is probably interested, if not a real buyer. Repetition ratchets up intent to purchase. The vital questions are -- how many visits signal intent and on which visit should we proactively prompt an interaction? How do we know how much repetition is sufficient to encourage conversion or at what point does a “Big Brother” intervention freak out a prospect? Sequential Behavior By watching where customers went before and after visiting our brand, we get better insight. If she visits the same product at a competitor site, that signals active shopping. If she looks at a product that normally goes together and sells together with the first product we can infer serious consideration. Someone who accesses or responds in multiple ways or at different times is more interested and has a higher purchase intent that a person using only one media channel. If we collect data from multiple channels (cookies, e-mail, search, log-ins, registrations, purchase history, coupon redemption, downloads, etc.) we see patterns that will suggest how to weight and model observed behavior. Use of Multiple Response Devices More actions equal greater intent. If she fills in a form, signs up for an e-mail newsletter, downloads a whitepaper, prints out a PDF, uses a zoom feature, puts data into a calculator or clicks a “contact me” button we have a semi-qualified lead. Most responders are generally interested but may not be ready-to-buy. The act of responding, while rarely more than 2 percent of those exposed to an offer, cues us to apply extra effort or TLC to prompt a buy. By watching what prospects do over time and across platforms, we can triangulate purchase intent and intensity. This applies particularly to high value, considered purchases like cars, stocks, diamonds, real estate. It works especially well in B2B marketing where the shopping cycle is longer and where the decision has more variables. The key to behavioral targeting is the data sets, analysis and observations that drive the business rules for serving up ads and content. It’s the thinking not the automation that matters. Getting these inferences and algorithms right helps us sell more things faster to those most likely to buy. If it doesn’t, it is just voyeurism.
Radio's Lessons for Mobile Mobile marketers can learn a lot from the first mobile advertising medium – radio. And while the notion sounds retrograde, long established consumer behavior has simply shifted from one device to another. Bleeding edge mobile savants need to pay attention to the not-so-distant past. Consumers brought their analog habits to the mobile digital world. Radio, like mobile media, has only two key functions; time saving or time wasting. “Utility and entertainment or death” could easily be a shared marketing motto since on-the-go consumers want what they need instantly, have no patience for technical glitches and can be disappointed and gone in a nanosecond. Customer expectations created by mobility are extremely fickle. It’s not the technology; it’s service and relevance in the moment that counts. Consider these 4 lessons from our radio brethren. We are creatures of habit. We get up and need stimulation. We commute and need to be either distracted, informed or calmed. And often we need companionship to fall asleep. AM and PM drive times are hard-wired behaviors. Content and devices can be targeted and timed to enhance and to intersect consumers’ day-to-day routines. The better integrated content and devices are into lifestyles and work routines; the better the marketing result. We rely on mood elevators. We are creatures governed by biorhythms that can be affected by sound, sight and content. People turn to music, imagery, news, sports and combative talk to change things up. Content impacts and regulates body chemistry, stress levels and happiness. Understanding and using these levers, brands can delight consumers. Mobile marketers can provide background and ambient cues or take center stage and drive attention and emotion if they understand who is tuned in, what their frame of mind is, where they are and what they need. We are our demographics. Birds of a feather flock together. Most people’s musical tastes are locked-in by the time they are 16 and are predictable based on age, geography, income and education. The people who love Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern are decidedly different. Different musical genres, design and display formats, content areas and messaging techniques appeal to different audience segments. One size never fits all. Mobile media needs to be programmed like cable TV or radio by deeply understanding and appealing to the psychology, demographics, sensibilities and lifestyles of thin audience slices. It’s all about how the content resonates with the target customer. Everything is local. The FCC artificially limited the range of radio stations in the licensing process. And even though wireless mobile devices can work almost anywhere, a 10-mile radius bounds most lives. Geo-fencing is a new term but hardly a new concept. Proximity, familiarity and convenience drive behavior. Mobile content has to leverage GPS and other emerging technologies to connect needs with nearby handy solutions. And while mobile is the newest media darling, the principles that will drive its success as a commercial medium are as old as Marconi.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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