I love reading the DigiDay newsletter, a great publication, but some of the articles recently have just been odd. This morning’s article, Ad Industry Want to Rebrand Behavioral Advertising, is the second in a row. Here are a few quotes from the article that caught my eye…
- “It stands to reason that the advertising industry, faced with unease over behavioral advertising, would choose a rebranding exercise. It’s not behavioral advertising, you see, it’s ‘interest-based advertising.’ ”
- “The new effort, done by McCann’s MRM in Salt Lake City, takes on the thankless task of educating consumers about the AdChoices icon that’s popping up in many banner ads. One thing the “Your AdChoices” effort doesn’t do is call behavioral advertising, well, behavioral advertising.”
- “This makes sense. Interest-based advertising sounds much more benign and let’s face it creepy than behavioral.”
Rebranding of behavioral advertising is probably the right thing but the whole thought that this is the best approach is just missing the point. Cross domain tracking of consumer behavior, selling the insight to the highest bidder, is a scary proposition. The fact that it can be done doesn’t mean that it should, or that it is actually good. Leave aside the part that behavior is bottom of funnel activity, and the online channel is lamenting its’ inability to attract brand ad spend (anyone see incongruence?), the whole concept of behavioral targeting is tech based and seeks to extract value exchange from consumers in a rather insideous way.
The balance of ad tech has been, and will continue to be, technology driven and not focused on the actual engagement of consumers. The idea that behavior is a meaningful predictor of purchase intent is flawed… I once read a research piece on the predictors of buying a flat panel tv… one would think that the online behavior of looking at flat panels was a good predictor, it was number 26.
Instead of trying to convince congress and consumers that this is actually “interest-based advertising”, why don’t we start by asking what the actual predictors are to purchase intent and audience identification then back into that question an approach that provides value to consumers and not just ad tech intermediaries?