Personalization versus Targeting

website personalization, dynamic targeting

I’ve read articles and blog replies where others try to distinguish between the terms personalization and targeting, referring to personalization as one-to-one and targeting as one-to-many. As a person who has actually created terms and pioneered strategy in this marketplace, I see the two as more or less synonymous with far fewer distinguishing dimensions than others see.

While trying to create a communications strategy for Kefta’s multi-channel personalization solutions, we determined early on that we wanted to distance ourselves from the failed software based personalization solutions of the late ’90s. They were an expensive, IT driven failure. The key failure was that they were too “heavy” a solution to ever get off of the ground. From a marketing strategy perspective, they were a failure because they relied upon users to self express differences before they could start targeting content, and they simply served a different message, as if that was supposed to be better than the original message.

Targeting became a term that was descriptive yet avoided a reference to the prior perceived failures of what was called personalization in the late ’90s. Using this learning as a guidepost, we landed on “dynamic targeting”. Prior to our use of this term, little was used with reference to targeting and no one in the online marketing space had ever used the combined term “dynamic targeting”.

Today, few people use the term personalization as a description of a type of technology. It’s more frequently used as describing a type of experience, leveraging the term personal. Beyond that, personalization has been a dead term and trying to describe it beyond it’s prior history is futile.

Love to hear your thoughts –

 Mark

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One Response to Personalization versus Targeting

  1. […] one datapoint Much has been written about on-site consumer behavior and its applicability to targeting programs. Despite this, little is really known about types of behaviors that are tracked or […]

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