prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Behavioral Targeting of Gen Y

Posted by prof e on March 30, 2009

computerBehavioral targeting (BT) is a strategy that attempts to deliver relevant ads to internet users based on their surfing behavior. The good news for advertisers is that they can target niche audiences with a level of precision only dreamed about in years past. The good news for consumers, if there is good news, is that you should be seeing ads that are relevant to your lifestyle and preferences…and not a lot of ads that are targeting someone else. The idea is brilliant, but the practice does not appear to be living up to expectations for members of Gen Y. New research shows that young consumers notice the ads, but few find them relevant. As a result, about 36% never click on ads, and the remaining 74% click infrequently. If you’re an advertiser running an interactive (read “online”) advertising campaign, those kinds of numbers are very discouraging. But it is also possible that the survey responses don’t capture the whole truth. I suspect that most survey respondents are reluctant to admit that they sometimes respond to online ads. And of course not all online advertising requires a click…some of it is simply designed to create and impression without a call to action.

This is a privacy issue, and it involves children, so naturally the government is getting involved. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is considering recommendation of voluntary industry guidelines that would limit data collection from those under 18 for the purpose of BT.

Some researchers have suggested that Gen Y actually prefers BT and may want to send explicit messages to marketers about what kinds of products and services they would welcome. That doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time…but then I’m just a wee bit older than this demographic. What do you think? Would you welcome advertising messages that were more focused and relevant to your personal interests, or do you just want them all to go away?

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4 Responses to “Behavioral Targeting of Gen Y”

  1. Cassi Brunson said

    Internet, e-mail, web-cam, etc. have all been great technologies that have been invented but unfortunately, most technologies have flaws or kinks that still need to be worked out. Studies are showing that generation y are harsh critics when it comes to Behavioral Targeting. This is where advertisers send out e-mails of the advertisement that fits you and your personality best. A lot of people get annoyed by this, me being one of them, when it is NOT pertained to you.
    Most of the time when I recieve these e-mails they do not pertain to me. In this case I do just go through them and erase them without reading them. A lot of advertisers that find out you are a college student will send you more advertisements about other colleges. This is annoying to me for the simple reason that I am already in college and 1) don’t want to switch, I have obviously made a decision and 2)do not want to go to two schools! Yes, I understand it could be an advertisement for if I wanted a second option or to pass on to others, but this is not likely in most cases, therefor I am less interested.
    Overall, if i recieved more e-mails pertaining EVEV MORE to my likes and personality then I would want to read them more instead of erasing them immediately.

  2. Alex Timmons said

    The second post by Ms Brunson explains beautifully why marketers use Behavioral targeting.

    [[Overall, if i recieved more e-mails pertaining EVEV MORE to my likes and personality then I would want to read them more instead of erasing them immediately.]]

    We’re like monkeys trained to perform a series of clicks until we click on something that rewards us with a banana. But in this case, it’s the advertiser who receives the reward – our money.

    By bombarding her mailbox with a barrage of ads, marketers will statistically be able to track what she eventually responds to. Because of an elusive phenomenon known as math, probabilistic data can be used to forecast an outcome. It’s simply a process of elimination that doesn’t need to be precise, only consistent. Incidentally because few people can actually do math, they’re unequipped to recognize these tactics.

    That the majority of the ads miss the mark is irrelevant to the marketer’s true aim. The real value of everything from your college diploma to your stick of deodorant is so inflated that individual companies can throw away billions of dollars on shotgun ads.

    What’s more interesting to me is the question of when consumers will realize that products of any real worth don’t need to be advertised. Quality simply speaks for itself, yet time and again consumers fall for the lie that a product can be simultaneously NEW and IMPROVED; Or, that diet plans offering GUARANTEED RESULTS are always a scam. Incidentally, scams like this are how a credit card company has been able to convince consumers that purchasing products leads to a way of living your life that is PRICELESS.

    If in fact magical pills could deliver on weight loss guarantees, the market of fat people would shrivel up – and advertisers wouldn’t be able to prey on the weakness of lazy people. I never think that advertising has an effect on me until I remember that I prefer to wrap my classy ass in undergarments purchased from Target as opposed to buying the same trailer-trash brand at Wal-Mart.

    What makes earning Ad revenue online so inconsistent is not that it doesn’t work. It’s just that the internet is presently suited to free-range grazing. It’s harder to corral cattle to deliver them to slaughter. Moooooooo!

  3. Michelle Mankins said

    Yeah, behavioral targeting is a great idea, but it’s easy to see why it isn’t doing so well. Personally, I look at advertisments on the Internet as spam. I don’t trust them at all and I don’t find them appealing. Most advertisments seem like it’s just too good to be true, and as the saying goes: “if it seems to good to be true, odds are it probably is”. Advertising is a hunt that has consumers as the prey. I don’t think that behavioral targeting is going to go anywhere and that either advertisers are going to need to get more manipulative or find another strategy to use the Internet as a good medium for advertising.

  4. sarah beddall said

    It’ unfortunate that newspapers and network news viewing has dropped. With internet use always rising, it would seem that advertisers would want to place thier money there. As a society we are used to seeing ads in the paper and commericals during the news. Ususally if I am watching television ad commercials come on, I change the channel or go do something else. As a nation I believe we are tired of advertisments. The internet is one of the few mediums we use that is not interrupted by ads. When I use the internet I am trying to get something done. Or I may be gathering news I missed through out the day. “Surfing” the net is enjoyable because there are no commercial interruptions. I think in future when television and newspapers are hitory we would accept on-line advertising. The movie “Minority Report” is futuristic and uses BT. I think behavioral targeting is a great idea for the future, but not today.

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