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What you see and how you will react are no longer determined by marketing managers in some boardroom argument, its predetermined based on your behavior, and the behavior of people just like you.

  • Content is dynamically created based on the term you typed into Google
  • Content is dynamically created based on how you browse a website
  • Recommendations are made based on what people like you did when they visited a website
  • The advertising you see is based on what content you consumed on other websites
    • Visit and you'll start seeing a lot more dating ads
    • Visit Expedia and you'll start seeing a lot more travel ads
  • Product recommendations are dynamically driven by consumer behavior
    • People who bought Web Analytics an Hour Day also bought

Louise Story recently asked four web giants a simple question – Could Yahoo show your name in the advertising you see when you visit their website? You'd be surprised by the answer. Imagine banners ads that read – Hi Darcy, we noticed that you were just on Amazon looking at Brian Clifton's new book, you might also find these analytics books interesting – only sold at This type of targeting and tracking is possible, but not used yet because of a self imposed privacy policy basically stating “we will not use personally identifiable information” – so you won't see your name anytime soon.

But to answer the above questions, Microsoft says it could use only a person's first name. AOL and Yahoo could use a full name but only on their sites, not the other sites on which they place ads. Google isn't sure; it probably could, but it doesn't know the names of most of its users.

How does behavioral targeting work?

Behavioral targeting is an advertising methodology in which content is shown to users based on the sites they visit and/or what the users do on those sites. Segmentation is usually fairly broad, but it can be very specific too, users who put this product into the shopping cart but did not check out should receive this offer 5 minutes later. Or users visiting our blog should receive free shipping. These are pretty straight forward rules, where behavioral targeting gets interesting is when the site is dynamically updating the offering based on group consumption.

I watched a fascinating demonstration from last week where search queries are reorganized based on how users consume the results. It used to be that we would search for blue widgets and an algorithm would determine how to rank the results – not anymore. Now when you search for blue widgets the results are determined purely on how the thousands of searchers before you interacted with the results. Baynote drops a little watching script into the footer of every webpage on the site, and they start collecting data. Once they have enough data, the start delivering new reordered results based on the behavior of previous users. Conversion rates sky rocket. A site that learns how to fix frustration in real time, that's a site that's working on winning you as a customer.

Types of behavioral targeting

  1. Based on website/web page visited.
  2. Based on keyword searched or content that was read.
  3. Based on past visitors to your website.

The benefits of behavioral targeting are numerous and compelling. Simple A/B tests (with bt vs. without) show massive a lift in conversion rates, and content consumption rates. The internet is undergoing a paradigm shift, from static to intuitive and dynamic.


State of Digital Marketing Analytics

The 2020 State of Digital Marketing Analytics examines the marketing technology that supports the world's most successful enterprises and highlights the challenges and strategies for navigating the new normal..