Is Behavioral Targeting Really Internet Stalking?

Fresh out of college, and with only traditional marketing tools under my belt, I started at Knotice a couple of months ago with only a little bit of knowledge about the digital marketing world. In my first blog meeting, everyone started tossing around the term behavioral targeting, a term I wasn’t completely aware of. The end result is this blog post, and a series of future posts, intended to help others that are new to this space and are afraid to ask questions.

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is behavioral targeting and how does it affect me as a marketer? I did a bunch of research and here’s what I found.

First, there are two different types of behavioral targeting, which are very different from each other. There is onsite behavioral targeting and network behavioral targeting. Both have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Onsite behavioral targeting is when a company collects data for a specific user only on their site. The company then takes the data they collect and uses it to post more relevant offers to that user while they’re on the site. For example, an eCommerce company knows the past purchase history of a customer, and offers complementary products when they return to their site.

Network behavioral targeting is when a company collects a user’s data across an unlimited number of Internet sites. This means that they track you no matter what site you’re on and then serve you ads and offers all over the Internet based on your past online activity. For example, you visit several different eCommerce sites in search of horse attire. Then when you go on to a site like Yahoo, you’d see ads related to horses; or, on a site like Ebay you’d only see content that relates to horse gear when you first hit the homepage.

Recently, there’s been a lot of concern among consumers about behavioral targeting. I’m not an expert, but it seems like onsite targeting is less invasive and creates less “ad noise.” I can see how some consumers see network behavioral targeting as an online stalker. To me, onsite behavioral targeting is like a sales person making suggestions to me.

Here are a couple articles I think are great for beginners to find out more about behavioral targeting and how marketers are utilizing it:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006362&src=article1_newsltr

http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3630107

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  1. […] The Lunch Pail « Is Behavioral Targeting Really Internet Stalking? […]

  2. […] a cookie allows a site to remember your user information and can help you do cool things like shop more efficiently online. There are two types of cookies that companies typically use on websites to enhance user […]

  3. […] that general acceptance is increasing among consumers. But, the article (and the survey) fails to differentiate between types of behavioral targeting. This is significant, because it reinforces the idea that when reading […]

  4. […] the best practices for the technology. Not all forms of behavioral targeting are the same (network versus onsite); therefore the same rules should not govern all types of behavioral […]

  5. […] not onsite targeting – that is drawing criticism. It is important for marketers and lawmakers to understand the distinction and continue to implement and use the more accepted behavioral targeting – onsite. Possibly […]

  6. […] targeting some sort of online stalking? Leslie breaks down the basics behind the different types of behavioral targeting ,and provides some great resources for beginners. (She also provides a terrific overview of cookies, […]

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