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November 18, 2004

Tacoda’s behavioral ad network will lead to more intent marketing

By Charlene Li

On the surface, Tacoda’s ad network appears to solve a major headache of behavioral targeting, namely, that it’s hard to get enough inventory of a segment like “technology enthusiast” at a single site to make it worthwhile for the marketer. With the network, marketers can buy text-based, cost-per-click ads and get distribution through Tacoda’s network of publishers.

But the real potential behind Tacoda’s network – and presumably, from other behavioral targeting/audience management providers like Revenue Science and AlmondNet – is that it could reverse the roles of publishers and marketers and make intent marketing more feasible for marketers.

Today, publishers announce that they have content and an audience that is attracted to that content – so if you’re a marketer interested in that audience, the publisher will sell you access to those users in the form of advertising at a specified price. The onus falls to the marketer to figure out where the audience is, hence the important role of media buyers and ad agencies.

In the future, marketers will announce that they want to reach a certain segment – let’s say, women in-market for a car – and are willing to pay $25 per qualified lead. The onus now falls to the publisher to deliver that audience to the marketer. Publishers will be able to see what the “bids” are within the system for a particular user profile and optimize their ad serving to maximize revenue per page.

This is the development of what I call “intent marketing” where the marketer targets intent, in this case, inferred from past behaviors. Intent can also be expressed as reading specific articles and clicking on contextual ads, or even, conducting a search itself -- in the days before paid search ads, Yahoo! took banner ads on oversold keywords and showed them to those users a few hours later elsewhere on the Yahoo! site. Another source of intent – user interests declared during site registration. 

While there are still flaws and kinks to be worked out, these new intent ad networks have the potential to replace time-worn proxies like age and income demographics. Look out media buyers – learn this new lingo or you’ll find yourself squeezed by the intent ad networks. 


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Scott Milener

I agree. Behavioral targeting and 'intent markteing' are very valuable, possibly more so than PPC since you could induce a purchase even when the user is not actively searching for something. The challenge is to gather the behavioral data in a way that's acceptable to the end user and is not perceived as spyware.

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