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Behavioral data improve search campaigns, expert says

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Leveraging customer behavior is the No. 1 priority for marketers today, according to panelists at a Tuesday morning session entitled “Aligning Ads With Users—Using Behavioral to Prospect in Search and Beyond” during Advertising Week 2006 in New York. Among other applications, these data can be used to inform and improve search marketing efforts.

BtoB Senior Reporter Carol Krol spoke with panelist Eric Eller, senior director of product marketing for Advertising.com, a display ad network that also has a search marketing division, and asked him about the value of behavioral targeting and how it relates to search campaigns.

BtoB: How are you using behavioral data on behalf of clients to improve their search campaigns and make them more targeted?

Eller: To improve our client search campaigns, we are leveraging information about the keywords that drive individual users to a site to better craft ad messaging to elicit a repeat visit. For an office supply store—users that click on “office furniture” would see different display ads on the network than users that click through on the term “phone system.”

BtoB: Many marketers are stuck in the “measuring click-throughs” stage. How can they move beyond cost-per-click?

Eller: For most of our clients, we are using some sort of post-click measurement. For example, we are measuring cost-per-sale or net revenue. Oftentimes this is accomplished using third-party ad serving systems like DoubleClick’s Dart and Atlas, sometimes with site analytic solutions such as Omniture and sometimes with third-party surveys like Comscore, Nielsen//NetRatings or Dynamic Logic to determine purchase intent and things like that. We do that mainly for display campaigns, but sometimes we use that for search as well.

BtoB: How can marketers marry search measurement with the measurement of other online campaign elements?

Eller: Utilizing a third-party ad server is the easiest way to simplify reporting and accurately assign value to multiple online channels. These systems are capable of defining rules and determining which marketing channel gets credit for a sale or action. However, the real benefit is when marketers are able to see how multiple online efforts are contributing to overall success: display advertising generating product awareness, search marketing addressing the consideration phase and behavioral retargeting to maximize conversions from site visitors. This way they can assess the true value from each source.

BtoB: What’s on the horizon in terms of trends in search marketing?

Eller: Primarily localization and socialization of search. Soon, advances in search technologies will allow marketers to identify users based on local and social attributes, which will eventually lead to more sophisticated targeting techniques.

BtoB: What are the top three tips you would give to marketers with limited resources to improve their targeting in search campaigns, especially if they don’t have the budget to invest in high-end data-collection tools or data service providers?

  • Secure a good reporting system. Decisions are only as good as the data they are based on.
  • Honestly assess the lifetime value of a click or conversion. Ignoring this component puts marketers at a price disadvantage and decreases the opportunity to secure quality search visitors.
  • Leverage behavior to maximize the potential result from every site visitor.
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