I should declare an interest here – I’m VP International for wunderloop, who offer behavioural and other forms of targeting, wrapped in the Connect ad exchange… so I’m not exactly impartial.
However, a dozen or so years in online marketing have shown that success of placing campaigns is rarely single-dimensional. In fact I’d tend to draw it as a compass, with the main axes pointing to geographic, timing (e.g. day and day part), socio-demographic and behaviour/interest based. In the centre of the compass I’d put context – because that is always a factor, regardless of the other targeting elements.
How much of a factor depends (at least in part) on the aims of the campaign – for example: is it the influence of brand associations or is it purely direct response?
Again, this is not a binary question – there are definite shades of grey.
Either way, what the industry is seeing – and accelerated by the current economic conditions – is a shift in buying patterns from premium to discretionary advertising inventory. This is a trend that was happening in any case, but which a softer buying market is accelerating.
Targeting (BT or otherwise) offers benefits on both sides of the media buying/selling equation: buyers can get better placed campaigns to drive whatever measurable benefits the campaign is aimed at; sellers can get a better price for the inventory they select by making sure that they put the right inventory into the mix for their customers.
And what do the audience get?
Content, in one shape or form or another – and mostly free of charge.
When I started in the online business a dozen or so years ago, my dad would always ask “yes, but who PAYS for it?” In the late ’90s, that was a rare question to ask.
Most forms of payment, other than ad-funding, have been gradually debunked: subscriptions models have not really taken off; micro-payments exist but don’t provide the currency to compensate for the development of web systems or creating content; fees from ISPs have been stripped away, packaged or reduced to commodity pricing. So ad-funding is (for most online content) an inevitability – as well as very competitive.
Which means that attempts to add value to discretionary inventory are here to stay too.