While many of the search marketing leaders were busy at SES NY this past week, Google launched a couple of products that showed a major move into the behavioral targeting realm. There were many posts and comments on the two new features in Adwords - Search Funnels and Ad Retargeting.
But what I did not really read was how these changes show an interest in user behavior and that Google now seems to be quietly angling its way into behavioral marketing.
The "search funnel" allows people to check what other keywords were clicked on before a conversion occurs. You now have the ability to see how many clicks and what different keywords were used by an individual visitor prior to the conversion decision. Tie this to the landing pages of the various clicks and the keywords themselves along with the ads viewed and you are exploring the behavior of a visitor as they interact with you site and your marketing efforts.
"AdWords Search Funnels are a set of reports describing the ad click and impression behavior on Google.com that leads up to a conversion," as Google posts (emphasis is mine). "By showing which ads your customers clicked on before ultimately converting, Search Funnels give a more complete picture of the value of your keywords, ad groups and campaigns."
Now add in the "remarketing" option also brought out of beta this week and another element of behavioral targeting is now part of the Google marketing arsenal. As TechCrunch notes: "The term "remarketing" has multiple definitions, but Google uses it describe a way for AdWords advertisers to run campaigns throughout the Google Content Network, which the company claims reaches about 80% of Internet users around the globe."
Basically if a searcher shows a particular type of behavior or interest in certain content then ads for that interest can be shown anywhere they go where AdSense ads are appearing. They can be targeted.
It does not matter anymore that people spend time optimizing their sites for specific topics and use Adsense as a provider of content specific relevant ads. Now people visiting a food site can see ads for financial services, cars or any other interest they have shown elsewhere.
One wonders how this will operate. Will Google allow an interest based ad to appear even if the bids for it are lower than those for the actual content determined ads already showing? I seriously doubt it. But hey if the ads of the interest have a higher bid of the ones normally appearing there then all bets are off - I am going with the interest based ads being shown.
True it should help site owners to make more money - but one wonders if there will be a different percentage paid on those clicks since Google can rightly claim they did all the heavy lifting.
Will Adsense soon become a platform that just shows the best possible money making ads regardless of relevancy associated with the site - can MFA site builders forget about looking for high end keywords and now just concentrate on building websites that attract the most traffic?
Another interesting recent development was Google's announcement that they are allowing internet users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics. Seems people can stop site owners from capturing information about their visits to their websites - there is even the ability to opt out of the remarketing efforts as well - but one knows Google still has the information.
You can opt out of analytics but still be tracked by Google and the information can be used for remarketing if you have not opted out of that one. Seems Google really does want to hold all the cards.
The opt outs look good to the people and countries advocating online privacy - you know that had to have been in the thoughts of the people making the decisions. As the last sentences of their remarketing post point out.
"As we announced when we launched interest-based advertising, we want to put users in control of the ads they see, so anyone can opt out of remarketing by using the Ads Preferences Manager. Our remarketing product complies with industry standards developed by self-regulatory groups such as the NAI and IAB and IAB UK."