NEW: Chris Thomas

We all know that the web has been a boon for targeted advertising, but it is the deals that are being done behind the scenes that will make the most difference.

What’s in store for 2008?

Chris Thomas

I guess the big splash in 2007 was the “arrival” of Facebook. In spite of all the hype (“guilty your Honour”) about targeted demographic advertising potential, the word from “those in the know” is that click-through rates (CTRs) on banner ads at Facebook are lower than a sewer-rat’s belly.

But I think the other big news story in 2007 was the deal announced between Google and DoubleClick. It’s been bubbling away under the mainstream news for some time, as various competition authorities globally analyse the deal.

I could be wrong, but perhaps the main reason Google is so interested in “integrating” DoubleClick into its own advertising model is the additional demographic targeting DoubleClick’s technology can bring to Google’s advertising system.

Google’s current AdSense system allows AdWords advertisers to place “contextual” text ads, banner ads and “click to play” video ads on partner websites. Google’s existing robot technology “scans” the content of partner web pages to get a “feel” for their context, then automatically places relevant Google ads from advertisers alongside that relevant content.

DoubleClick on the other hand, uses visitor behaviour technology to decide which banner ads to display. DoubleClick’s system is perhaps best illustrated with an example.

Let’s say you’ve visited a website selling new cars and spend some time checking out a page about a certain model, looking at the specs and colour options etc. If an agency is using DoubleClick technology to show ads on that website, they’ll track your behaviour using cookies.

An agency using DoubleClick’s technology knows that the typical car buying cycle is about six weeks from initial research/interest to purchase.

A couple of days later you happen to visit another website on which the same agency (using DoubleClick) displays banner ads. The system recalls that a few days before you showed interest about a new car, so they serve up a banner ad advertising a new car.

Than as you get closer to the six weeks purchasing point, they really turn it up, showing you as many banner ads from their stable of advertisers about new cars as they can.

Apart from the potential anti-competitive issues investigated by competition agencies, there has also been some concern about the privacy implications of behavioural systems.

However, it looks as if the deal will go ahead, and Google may begin to merge DoubleClick’s online behavioural targeting systems with its own contextual targeting to create super-targeted advertising in 2008.

I guess time will tell.


Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine optimisation company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.


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