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Know Before You Buy: Behavioral vs Contextual Advertising

By: Susan Solovic


Know Before You Buy

The scandals and controversies over personal data collection have been making headlines for the last few months.

With the various revelations and the new European regulations, it’s possible that collecting personal data online and using it for targeted advertising might be throttled back to some extent.

However, advertising targeted via users’ personal data and behavior isn’t the only way advertising can be targeted. There are two important terms you need to be familiar with today:

  • Behavioral data collection advertising, and
  • Contextual advertising.

Behavioral data collection advertising

The first, behavioral data collection advertising, is what users and various governmental agencies are objecting to. Vacuuming up information based on your online behavior is, more and more, being considered an invasion of privacy.

The extent to which websites track your behavior is often difficult—if not impossible—to discern via their disclosure statements. Users mistakenly believe that they are granting permission for one website when, in fact, their every move is being tracked and recorded on virtually every site they visit.

It’s too early to say whether or by how much this tracking will be curtailed, but it’s possible that the shine may go off behavioral data collection advertising. However, contextual advertising generally avoids these privacy issues.

Contextual advertising

While you can think of behavioral data collection advertising as “people based,” contextual advertising is “content based.” By content, I’m talking about the content on the web page.

Consumers are getting increasingly annoyed by ads that follow them around the Internet…

Let me give you an example. If John is planning to put in a new deck, he would do some online research. This behavior would be collected and added to his profile in the computer of a “big data” advertising organization. With behavioral data collection advertising, ads related to deck building would be served up to him no matter where he went on the Internet. He could go to a Chinese-English language translation site and an ad for engineered decking materials would magically appear in a banner at the top of the page.

Contextual advertising is different. In this case, when John visits a popular handyman blog and drills down to an article on deck materials, he would see the banner ad for engineered decking.

Rather than being based on the “person,” contextual advertising is based on the content of the website or webpage. It still targets the interests of the user, but without invading the user’s personal privacy.

As you move forward and plan advertising and marketing campaigns in the future, talk to your agency about the different approaches and understand which kind of targeting will be the centerpiece of your online advertising efforts.

Consumers are getting increasingly annoyed by ads that seem to follow them into every nook and cranny of the Internet, so it might be wise to stick with contextual advertising.

Published: October 26, 2018

Source: Susan Solovic

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Susan Solovic

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com and USA Today bestselling author, and attorney. She was the CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com—small business television—a company she grew from its infancy to a million dollar plus entity. She appears regularly as a featured expert on Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and can be seen currently as a small business expert on the AT&T Networking Exchange website. Susan is a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College and the Advisory Boards for the John Cook School of Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University as well as the Fishman School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia College. 

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