Study: “…our findings suggest that if Americans could vote on behavioral targeting today, they would shut it down.”

That’s from the overview section of an important new research report: Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities That Enable It. Conducted by a team of academics in two leading universities–the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley’s Center for Law & Technology–it’s an essential text for those concerned about privacy, consumer welfare and civil liberties.  The study is a concise overview of the issue, and includes a very important analysis and discussion.

Protecting Privacy Online from so-called `Smart’ Ads that “Gleans Information about the Consumer”

As we have explained to policymakers, they also must address how online marketing applications threaten consumer privacy.   The rise of so-called smart ads that learn about your interests and behaviors, and then makes you special offers, involves the use of sophisticated digital techniques such as rich media. As this week’s Performance Insider on “Add Direct Response to Get More out of Rich-Media Ads” explains:

Ad delivery technologies further enhance direct response success by leveraging dynamic ad generation to produce a custom rich media ad that is optimized based on specific levers — products or creative elements of interest to the consumer combined with behavioral, demographic, geo and other targeting. By creating an on-the-fly, ultra-relevant ad with in-banner key response activities, marketers will drive greater interaction, response and conversion.

Rich media and online marketing company Pointroll (owned by Gannett) explains how the use of its “tailgating” technologies expand the capability of interactive multimedia ads:

Rich media ads are attention-grabbing, powerful, and engaging. They can encourage consumers to buy products and direct them to the advertiser’s retail stores or website via click-through to make the purchase. But until now, they were not a true end-to-end solution. Now, through a partnership with tailgate, pointroll offers secure ecommerce capabilities directly within rich media ad units. With pointroll ads powered by tailgate technology, consumers can purchase goods and services directly within the ad unit, without ever leaving the site they’re browsing. Tailgate can enable any credit card-based ecommerce transaction. Possible applications include purchasing movie tickets, music, ring tones and retail goods; and making political or charitable donations…Advanced analytics – integrated reporting, analysis & research tools provide an in-depth look at campaign performance and visibility into consumer behavior and purchase patterns.

Pointroll’s Ad Control product adds this dimension:  Create, deliver and measure unlimited creative and messaging combinations with dynamic ads that influence the right consumer at the right time with PointRoll’s AdControl.  Create: AdControl enables advertisers and their agencies to easily produce infinite ad combinations by mixing and matching various creative elements and dynamically generating a unique ad in real time. Connect: AdControl seamlessly leverages each possible creative combination and marries it with information known about the user to deliver the most relevant, customized ad experience based on characteristics such as geo, site, placement, or custom defined variables…AdControl gleans information about the consumer and turns this knowledge into a customized ad; ensuring the most relevant creative is served to each user…By mapping user characteristics to creative elements, AdControl can produce the right ad for the right consumer.

Neuromarking for Politics and Online Ads: “which [ad] has a greater effect on the brain”

excerpt:  At MindSign Neuromarketing we use the only free-standing independent functional MRI facility and our own brain activation methodology to show what consumers are thinking while using a new product, and seeing an ad… Pennsylvania Avenue (politics):  We take your political TV, Web Video or Radio ad, and show you what parts or scenes cause activation and what parts cause deactivation, which parts we’re the most engaging, and which parts were the least, for each and every demographic and political affiliation. We compare your ads to your competitor’s ads to see which is more activating and at what parts. We then graph the brain responses to your ad versus our database and show you which parts of your ad are more activating than the average brain response to an advertisement, and which parts are less activating. We make a video graph, so you can watch your ad and see the brain reaction mapped over it in real-time—you can see what about your ad causes brain activation or deactivation moment by moment…Madison Avenue (advertising)…We take your Print or Web Advertisment and compare it to our database to see if your product design is more or less activating than the average brain response for all similar advertisements. We compare your product to your competitor’s and see who’s is most activating. Finally, if you’re trying to decide between different versions of your own print or web advertising, we’ll show you which one has a greater effect on the brain, helping you make a better final decision.

Microsoft’s Mobile Behavioral Targeting includes deal with ad giant Publicis

The growing integration of data collection and targeting across key platforms by key online marketing conglomerates, such as Microsoft, with advertising agencies is one issue that policymakers must address.  Here’s an excerpt from a Sept. 21, 2009 announcement on Microsoft’s mobile marketing plans:

Publicis Groupe’s Phonevalley, the world’s leading mobile marketing agency and part of the VivaKi Nerve Center, announced today a strategic agreement to create customized mobile advertising solutions, technology and metrics that will run across Microsoft’s mobile web properties, including the Microsoft Media Network, Bing and MSN. The packaged solutions will be available in 14 markets worldwide, including the U.S., the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

This alliance strenghtens the relationship between Microsoft Advertising and VivaKi. It furthermore reinforces the VivaKi strategy to build a market leader in digital communications, in an increasingly mobile world.

Phonevalley and Microsoft Mobile Advertising will work together to design innovative packaged mobile advertising solutions for six industry verticals: luxury, retail, entertainment, automotive, travel and financial services… To efficiently drive the most qualified audience, the package would take advantage of the innovative ad formats and new targeted mobile media features such as behavioural targeting developed by Microsoft Advertising.

Additionally, by utilizing data from dedicated vertical research and post test results, advertisers can further improve the efficiency and efficacy of their campaigns to better engage with their target mobile audiences.

What unites Google & Microsoft?—Advancing Behavioral Targeting!

via New Media Age [excerpt]:

AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo are among six industry players to come together for an event to educate the market about behavioural targeting.  The invite-only event on 29 September at Microsoft’s offices is targeted at decision-makers within agencies and clients.

Google, Specific Media and AudienceScience are also involved.

Zuzanna Gierlinska, Microsoft Advertising’s head of Microsoft Media Network… who helped steer the initiative, said the group wanted to help brands feel more confident about behavioural targeting.

“We wanted to get these providers together and take what’s currently been talked about broadly in the industry to the next level,” she said…

The event will cover subjects such as the benefits of behavioural targeting to users and the role of creative agencies.

Online giants unite to offer behavioural targeting tips.  Suzanne Bearne.  New Media Age.  27 August 2009.  sub required

Microsoft’s Behavioral Targeting includes Web, Mobile and Xbox

As the debate in Congress, the FTC, the European Commission heats up about behavioral targeting and online privacy–and as regulators examine the Microsoft/Yahoo data deal–here is how Microsoft plans to extend it’s use of behavioral targeting [from MediaPost, excerpt]:

 Microsoft last week began offering behavioral targeting for ads running on its mobile network. But while the service offers a range of online targeted categories — about 100 –to advertisers buying mobile display inventory, the launch really means so much more.

Jamie Wells, Microsoft’s global director of trade marketing, mobile advertising solutions, says the targeting cuts across the Web, mobile and Xbox platforms when consumers sign into their Windows Live account. It allows media buyers to purchase consumer profiles demonstrating interest in specific categories, as well as specific times in a purchase funnel.

The technology doesn’t rely on cookies, but rather the user’s Windows Live ID. Cookies present a challenge on the Web, but even more so on mobile. Sometimes telecommunication carriers either strip out cookies or don’t accept them from third-party companies. So, rather than use cookies, Microsoft relies on behavioral profiles associated with Hotmail email and Xbox accounts through Windows Live ID. When a person on a mobile phone uses that same ID, Microsoft can link the behavior on the Web with behavior on their mobile phone and Xbox.

Although tight-lipped on Microsoft’s strategy, Wells admits “this is just the beginning.” Microsoft plans to expand its approach to tie together the Web, mobile and Xbox, drawing on the power of the entire Microsoft network. The strategy will integrate the audience, he says.

“The mobile application addresses one of the biggest challenges, which is targeting,” Wells says. “This is a way to circumvent the cookie problem and use online profiles. Also, some folks would argue that there’s a much higher bar for ad relevancy on mobile, and BT speaks right to that.”

“Behavioral Targeting provides realtime visibility into actions of indviduals” says marketer

Excerpt from’s Fast Facts on behavioral targeting:

Unprecedented Opportunity

Behavioral targeting provides realtime visibility into actions of individuals…Firms that specialize in audience segmentation have refined the use of behavioral targeting…Ten years ago, it would have been impossible for a marketer to reach an individual who lived in Seattle, enjoyed tennis, and tended to surf on a high-speed connection at 10 A.M. on Tuesday’s.  Today, it is not only possible to identify the target, but it is also possible to reach the target with highly customized messaging.  Behavioral targeting variables, or targeted schemas, are limited by only two factors: a marketer’s imagination and the advertising network offering visibility into web-wide behavior.

Behavioral advertising networks…provide a piece of tracking code to be placed on one or more pages of the market’s website.  The code is used to identify a visitor to the site as a person eligible to receive a targeted message elsewhere on the web…some large portal websites such as Yahoo! do not need a “network” to define behavioral segments across their thousands of content categories.

Google & ad giant WPP search for scholars who can help them better target teens, mobile users, and promote pharmaceutical brands

For the second year, Google and global ad conglomerate WPP are searching for academics who will apply for their Marketing Research grants.  A look at some of the topics that are listed as “of interest” should help provide you with a better picture of the `brought to you by interactive advertising’ digital world to come:

excerpt:  Google and the WPP Group have launched the 2nd round of the research program they jointly created to improve understanding and practices in online marketing, and to better understand the relationship between online and offline media…

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Online and offline media interaction

  • How does a brand establish a framework for assessing how much should be spent online? How much advertising should be directed at brand development versus specific click generation?
  • How does offline media affect search and vice versa?
  • What are the best models for mobile advertising?…
  • What are good guidelines for moving traditional video spots from broadcast to broadband?…
  • What is the causal relationship between brand health and search success? And what is the link between search and sales? How does search contribute to word of mouth recommendation?…
  • How do you model the consumer response to digital advertising in social networks or mobile media?…
  • How can advertisers be welcome in social networks?
  • How should online audiences and online marketing tactics be measured in emerging markets – Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America? Does mobile hold the upper hand over online in some markets?…
  • How do teens interact with digital media and what are the implications?
  • Should heavy internet users be given different treatment than light users?
  • How influential are online influencers and what categories of consumers/behaviors are most affected by them?…
  • How can pharmaceutical brands engage more effectively online? How should marketers approach creative development given the full/risk disclosure requirements?
  • What are the unique marketing and targeting opportunities for other verticals: financial services, insurance, entertainment, consumer goods, retail, etc?
  • How do consumers interact with the mobile web and what are the opportunities for retail (coupons, QR codes, etc) within mobile?…
  • What is inhibiting mobile advertising and how can it be overcome? What is the role of mobile advertising in a new marketing communication strategy?

Microsoft’s “Sweeping Vision” for Online Ads: “unlocking the Holy Grail of marketing” by “mining user intent”

The digital data collection arms race is unleashing powerful forces focused on data collection and consumer targeting across much of the online world.  As advertisers meet to discuss and celebrate their accomplishment and plans, as part of Advertising Week, Microsoft is playing a leading role.  As you read about their plans from this excerpt in Adweek, keep in mind that they hope to bundle their search marketing platform with Yahoo!

Microsoft is heading into Advertising Week looking to capture the ad industry’s attention by laying out a sweeping vision for the online advertising market and the integral part it plans to play in its the future…At the heart of that undertaking is the plan to build a product that can determine exactly what ads Web users want to see and when. “At the core, the most important thing to us is mining user intent,” Howe [Scott Howe, corporate vp, Microsoft’s advertiser and publisher solutions group], said. “What does a user really want to see in the way of advertising.”

That’s easy in search. But intent is not so clear on content sites or social networks. “If Bing is step one [for Microsoft Advertising], step two is extending that engine to power the ads that someone sees across all display ad formats and multiple devices,” Howe said.

…”When people talk about behavioral targeting, often they’re talking about flat display formats on a PC — and we’re talking about across all digital devices,” he said. “And so, by having this engine power all the different things holistically, we’re actually in some respects unlocking the Holy Grail of marketing.”

Neuromarketing firm, backed by Nielsen, brings in expert on “attention, language…reading development”

Neurofocus–the global neuromarketing firm backed by Nielsen–has added to its staff Dr. Steven Miller [“A neuropsychologist with expertise in the assessment and treatment of problems in attention, language, or reading development, Dr. Miller has extensive experience using a variety of behavioral and brain-imaging methodologies (e.g., EEG, MEG and fMRI).”]

Here’s how Nielsen explains what Neurofocus can do for clients, such as brands:

Understand consumers’ subconscious responses to messages with brainwave analysis and increase the effectiveness of marketing and branding content.

Influencing the unfiltered feelings locked in the subconscious and protected by thousands of years of evolutionary defenses has been the bane – and the bread and butter – of advertisers and market researchers since the beginning of the media age. The Nielsen Company and NeuroFocus, Inc. offer neuroscience-based products, services and metrics in retail, consumer packaged goods, television, film and emerging media. Using established electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques to measure degrees of attention, memory retention and emotional engagement, neurological testing provides precise, projectable insights into consumer behavior along with recommendations for increasing message effectiveness.

With NeuroFocus, Nielsen supports an array of marketing challenges:

Understanding Your Audience By addressing consumer responses in the subconscious, where purchase intent is formed, determine precisely how consumers react to a message.