Google's New Behavioral Targeting For AdWords Reviewed

UPDATE: Seems Google does not want to be associated with the term behavioral targeting. Google's VP of product management and advertising and also the one with the famous garage, Susan Wojcicki said the company will not use behavioral targeting.

Zachary Rodgers over at ClickZ has written a good overview of the recent addition of behavioral targeting by Google AdWords.

This new feature is using previous searches to fine tune what ads are presented to the searcher.

Behavioral targeting has had mixed opinions. Avinash Kaushik, who blogs on analytics at Occam's Razor, sums up the method as: "Right thing to the Right person at the Right time.."

Rodgers interviewed Nick Fox, the Google group business product manager for ads quality, and learned that Google is looking at previous search behavior of a user and combining previous action with current ads. Mixing tennis searches with vacation searches to provide tennis vacations was used as an example (though not a confirmed BT search).

Using BT in the search industry is not exactly new. John Battelle had recognized its potential when he termed the phrase "database of intentions".

Another noted web analyst, Anil Batra, called for Google to add behavioral marketing earlier this year. Seems the idea has been popular.

The issue of privacy is the major force against gathering and using behavioral marketing, though to me it is more who pays for the information. The initial people advertising in a space help the engines capture user behavior without the benefits.

It is a Catch-22 - this is something that is here and not likely to be driven back. Thus, I wish Google would get a deeper knowledge of the real way to use behavioral targeting.

Nick Fox states: "We're not doing things like trying to profile the user to find out if the user is a man or a woman or a 45-year-old or a 25-year-old," he said. "In the context of search it doesn't seem that powerful, and we haven't seen any evidence that it will be that powerful."

When I read this I got chills. In our financial space 80% of our clients are male between the ages of 30 and 50. I would love to get a larger share of those impressions and leave the rest to those who think Nick is correct.

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About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.