In my previous post, I complained about the fact that online publishers show absolutely norestraint in where and when they shove ads in the reader’s face. Rather than continuing my diatribe, let me offer an idea that some publishers may actually find worth pursuing.
Online publishers capture amazing amounts of data about their readers. As a student of consumer behavior, I see a great opportunity to use the data in a novel way: try to identify and categorizepatterns of behaviors, and then use a combination of performance data and possibly some neuromarketing experiments to figure out when and where readers are most likely to be receptive toadvertising.
Before half of you jump up to say that, duh, this is already done and it’s called behavioral targeting, let me clarify the difference in what I am proposing. To myknowledge, the majority of behavioral targeting is data-driven, meaning that it is based on slicing and dicing data to look for patterns. I am proposing a model-driven approach,which begins with a principled description of the moment-by-moment behaviors of readers, and uses this information to guide data collection and analysis.
Consider the following example: ReaderR is in his office and has a short window of time to clean up his inbox. As he skims some newsletters to which he subscribes, he clicks a link to an article whose title he finds interesting, whichtakes him to website W. Later that morning, he is sitting at the dentist’s office, bored out of his mind as he waits to be called in. He has already read every issue of Field &Stream and Car and Driver, and doesn’t care for Better Homes & Gardens, so he whips out his smartphone and surfs over to website W just to see if anything elseinteresting catches his eye.
It is my opinion that Reader R is more likely to be receptive to ads in the second scenario, but most data-driven approaches would miss that. A behavior-basedanalysis of this situation might suggest that if you are visiting a website by clicking a link in an email, your behavior is very different than if you check out the URL in the browser.