26 Jul What is Behavioral Targeting?

The Internet is getting more and more like “Big Brother”… Google guesses what you’re thinking, Facebook serves ads that seem to always correspond with your interests… but what exactly is behavioral targeting and how is it used to advertise?

Targeting companies are hired to place a piece of code on a website. Then, when a user is surfing the web, the site will put a cookie on your browser, which populates as you surf.

Now that your browser has a cookie, the targeting begins. A profile is formed as you click your way from site to site. This cookie takes note of what you buy, what you read and what you search for. The more time goes on, the more data is collected, gauging your interests and preferences.

With systems tracking your moves, keeping tabs on your browsing history, the Internet can get to know you better — and be smarter than ever. This is marketing gold, as more relevant content can lead to more engagement.

Consumers are starting to expect that their Internet experience be all about them.

Meanwhile behavioral targeters are testing demographics and creating algorithms to determine consumer interests and speak to a person’s depth to give them an element of choice. Companies like ContextWeb target based on content. Instead of interpreting CNN as a news site, it breaks it down into retirement, personal finance, education — it’s no longer a one-dimensional perception of the site. And that precision helps to refine the algorithm.

To some, behavioral targeting seems like an invasion of privacy, but this seems to be less of a priority among millennials, who tend to be more accepting of behavioral targeting than their Boomer counterparts. They’re used to living their lives out loud. Behavioral targeters can take advantage of the wealth of consumer information broadcast over social media, learning tweet by tweet about the audience it’s trying to reach.

Where is it inaccurate? What if a family of four shares a desktop computer? How does the targeter know the difference between the family members and their widely varied interests? Well, BT isn’t perfect. It relies on laptops, and soon iPhones, Androids, and iPads for the crux of its data. Give it time – soon we won’t even have to type search criteria into Google!

What do you think? Is behavioral targeting an invasion of privacy? Is it creepy, or smart marketing? What has your personal experience been, as a consumer or marketing company? Share your thoughts by commenting below, or posting on our Facebook page!

Sibet B Freides