What is behavioral targeting?

When you’re in a conversation and somebody uses this term, your first question should be… is this on-site or display ad behavioral targeting?

Typically, when referring to banner ads, behavioral targeting relates to the use of data regarding consumer behavior that’s learned across numerous domains. I’ve tracked a new industry group that’s tasked with defining standards and definitions for behavioral targeting, Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortium (BTSC). After reviewing the site once again before this post, it’s interesting that they don’t have any content yet regarding the accomplishment of this objective. Seems like it would be somewhat simple to define a market in broad terms, guess not.

On-site behavioral targeting is often times referred to simply as on-site targeting. Typically, it relates to individual consumer information that’s used to segment and them either serve a different experience on a website or measure the difference in reaction to particular aspects of a site by each segment.

This distinction is critical because it demonstrates how young the discourse is in the online industry. The idea that two words can mean very different things to two people who share a similar role should be rather concerning. And, is likely why we have confusion around many subjects.

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