As companies like 24/7 Real Media and Tacoda begin to serve more behavioral targeted ad campaigns, I wonder when the affiliate marketing industry will consider this approach as part of its lead & sales generation process. I briefly talked about a seminar that I had attended where behavioral targeting was the hot topic. In a nutshell, behavioral targeting is serving an ad based on web properties (websites that are part of a predefined advertising network) where users have previously visited.
Behavioral Targeting in Affiliate Marketing
Currently, I am not aware of behavioral targeting taking place in the affiliate marketing industry. Effectively, I see affiliate websites as web properties within the predefined network similar to that of the CPM world. If an end user does visit affiliated websites, there could be a possibility of presenting targeted offers based on past behavior. For instance, if after a few website hops and no click was generated, the offer may be rotated and a more enticing ad is served to try and garner a click. Secondarily, if clicks are happening but no sale has resulted, an enhanced offer could be presented within the sales tunnel to try and close that opportunity.
Benefits of Behavioral Targeting
Advertisers: Increase efficiency of ad serving – i.e. serving ads only to targeted users who are in a segment of the predefined network can lead to a lower cost of acquisition; network segmentation also allow ads to be more targeted when running brand marketing campaigns
Publishers: Earn more for serving targeted ads within relevant websites (or sections within a website); ability to serve more relevant ads to users
Networks: Offer an effective method for advertisers & publishers to work together at generating leads & sales or marketing a brand
Users: Receive more relevant & perhaps better offers during online experience
As with offline direct and multi-level marketing, success of affiliate marketing is due in part to a trusted source when referrals for products or services are made. The way I see it, behavioral targeting can play a positive role in this type of one-to-one marketing. Affiliate marketers are adaptive and will find a way to deliver more relevant ads so I think it will only be a matter of time before behavioral targeting becomes a norm in this marketing space. Of course, only time will truly tell.
There is increasing evidence that behavioral targeting can work for advertisers. As a reference, Ari Bluman from 24/7 Real Media shares how behavioral targeting positively affects click-through rates. Here is a behavioral segmentation case study showing how behavioral targeting can lower cost of acquisition.