Banner Behavioral Targeting and Results

I met with a banner network vendor today to discuss their various behavioral targeting techniques.

As background, online advertising, including paid search and banners, is considered a direct marketing channel, geared solely at acquisition – getting new customers to buy new or getting existing customers to buy new. Because of this, our success metric is acquisition revenue divided by media costs, or acquisition ROI. And the goals I set for the team are to assure that efforts drive┬ámore acquisition revenue than media costs to deliver that revenue.

We’ve been using this particular media vendor for about a year or so, with only moderate campaign successes month over month. This was disappointing – and then they began to implement several of their behavioral targeting techniques, and the campaign really turned around. This vendor uses a combination of the following to target behaviorally:

  1. Content targeting: This is probably the most regularly leveraged banner placement technique – where a banner is placed adjacent to copy that is about the concepts or topic covered in the banner.
  2. Search targeting: When a banner is targeted at someone who has used on-site or search engine searches with particular phrases targeted either by the advertiser or vendor.
  3. Creative targeting: Based on someone’s view or click on specific creative, the user is targeted with either the same creative or different creative.
  4. Site targeting: If someone has visited a specific site (or the advertiser’s site) they are shown banners.

From implementation of multi-level targeting and managing the campaign over several different targeting metrics, we were able to more than double our acquisition return on investment in three months.

And how do we know that seeing banners makes a difference in buying behavior? We did analysis on order data captured through our ad serving service against order data that was gathered through weblog analysis. In doing match back, we saw that people ordered within 4.5 days following the final banner impression. The “magic” number of impressions needed to affect purchase was 8 impressions over the course of one day. Any more than 8, and there was no incremental lift in purchasing. Any fewer than 8 and the likelihood to purchase dropped pretty significantly. YOUR RESULTS MAY VARY. This data is different between each of the sites for which we do banner advertising – so these are good rules of thumb, but will likely be different between different companies and industries.