Behavioral Targeting on Google

As the Internet marketing industry grows, it not only assimilates almost all the advertising techniques and paradigms of the real world, but also creates entirely new ones through merging consumer behavior with web data. Take behavioral targeting that you can apply to your pay per click (PPC) campaigns, for instance.

Google’s Interest-Based Advertising

As early on as 2009, Google was already testing what will eventually be rolled out as the “Interest-based advertising” feature on its Display Network. Officially opened to the public in 2011, interest-based advertising leverages the reach and data-gathering capabilities of Google to ads that are relevant to user interests.

For marketers, the new feature meant wide-scale behavioral targeting based on a user’s past actions like webpages visited and time spent browsing. PPC campaigns finally have the capability to peek in on digital consumer behavior.

Using Behavioral Targeting in Your PPC Campaigns

Google relies on data stored in individual browser cookies to make sure its display ads show only the most relevant ads to the right user. Depending on the nature of the places on the web that a user takes time to visit, Google can conjecture specific demographics that are translated into interest groups.

On the advertiser’s end, you can choose from over 1,000 interest categories or use remarketing tactics to capitalize on interest-based advertising. Remarketing allows you to display more relevant ads and special offers to users who previously visited your webpages.

Some Pitfalls to Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting on PPC has its dangers, such as:

Not Everyone is Opted In — Google’s interest-based advertising feature allows people to opt out. Collecting such behavioral data on the web without permission (i.e. without “opt in” permission) infringes on privacy boundaries.

You Might be Marketing to the Wrong User — In the perfect, modern world, every person has his or her own computer. In the real world, families and friends share devices, and this means you could be advertising to the wrong user.

More Technologically Savvy Users Clear Their Cookies More Often — All the data used for digital behavioral targeting in Internet marketing is in a browser cookie. When the more technologically savvy and data hygiene-inclined users clear their cookies, there goes your behavioral targeting PPC data mine.

Pros and Cons of PPC Behavioral Targeting

Naturally, implementing behavioral targeting on your PPC campaigns on the Google Display Network, or any other network, will have its ups and downs. The foremost advantage and disadvantage of digital behavioral targeting are:

Foremost Advantage: More Specific Advertising to an Already Specific Market — paid search and display placement through PPC already draws in a specific pool of lead traffic, and behavioral targeting enables you to further zoom in on an even more specific market. This translates to better conversion rates and lower cost per sale.

Foremost Disadvantage: Online Behavior is Never Absolute — Like most other personal digital data on the web, you can never be sure about the information in the browser cookie upon which behavioral targeting relies. Users can also always simply opt out if they feel like going banner blind to ads.

Keeping all this in mind, you can try out how behavioral targeting on your PPC efforts work for you and see if you should continue investing more advertising capital into it.