Behavioral Targeting: The Online Advertising Catch-22

Marketing BadlyAdvertising on the Internet isn’t what it used to be. People aren’t falling for the “9,999th Visitor” iPod winner ploy. They are catching on to Google Adsense, and pop-up blockers have destroyed that avenue.

The problem is, they also don’t want to pay to visit websites. “Don’t make money off of us, AND make it all free.” That’s the message, and a recent study described in Arstechnica about Web surfers and Behavioral Targeting touches on this fact. Check out that article (later) but first, let’s take a look at a solution.

It’s more challenging for advertisers such as Los Angeles Toyota Dealers and Auto Loans Boston to truly make an impact without the right message.

OurSocieties, a social media and social networking hybrid, is taking advertising to the next level. People will look at ads. They may even click on them if they are relevant. They don’t want their data used to determine relevance. That’s the catch-22. To combat this, OurSocieties is selecting sponsors based on their targets without using the user data. Pages will be served based upon an opt-in advertising platform.

When new users join the site, they will be able to opt-in to the advertisers that they are willing to see. It will not be cumbersome — if they want to select their advertisers later, they will be served from the entire pool until they have the time to complete their own “behavioral targeting” profile.

In other words, instead of tracking the activities of the users, Our Societies plans to just flat out ask them.

It will be a breath of fresh air for both consumers and advertisers. Super-targeted advertising without incentives to click (other than to shop for products) is the way of the future. Advertisers paying for people who WANT to see their ads — there’s something new. No more force-feeding or manipulating.

There will be another advertising section that involved “relevant sponsorship.” The automotive category of the social media section will be sponsored by someone automotive — Toyota,, NASCAR — whoever steps up to sponsor it. Again, the advertiser is only paying to be viewed (and clicked on) by people interested in what they have to offer instead of misplaced Cole Haan ads in the Gadgets section (not that people who read about gadgets won’t wear Cole Haans, but a nice iPhone ad will probably have a better effect).

Scheduled to launch in July, Our Societies should become the model for online advertising. It isn’t too hard. If you want to give the people what they want, just ask them.

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This isn’t necessarily a Marketing and Business Blog, but it plays one on television.

One Response

  1. Robert Michel April 1, 2008

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