Behavioral Targeting Versus Contextual Advertising

There’s a continual shift that seems to be happening on whether contextual advertising is better than behavioral. It seems that most people are becoming bigger and bigger on behavioral, and assuming that contextual has reached it’s peak. After meeting with a company that at first started to do both, blurring the lines, taking advantage of each when they had appropriate data it started to become clear that they more so have their place and time. Behavioral and Contextual shouldn’t be direct competitors.

Context works really well in the form of a question. Google’s perfected this, when I ask for where to buy a bottle of cologne it gives me advertisements that are as accurate as search results, in fact often more accurate with displaying some level of pricing. Context works so well here, because when I go back to google I’m probably not going back for a bottle of cologne every time. It gives me ads based on the context of my search and it works!
If you take a major media publisher, and you put the same ads up that are related to the article you get some impact, but not as much as one would hope. If I go read an article about hurricane in florida, once I’ve read it I may want to read 1-2 more, but the majority of people move on to a different topic. Once I’m done with a page, my context is no longer relevant.
Another example is mobile advertising. Location based advertising has been a big interest for some time now. Foursquare has started doing this very well, based on when I check in at a place it’ll show me nearby specials. The problem is I’ve set down ordered my appetizer, THEN I see that I can get 10% off next door, at this point really doesn’t help me much.
This is where behavior has become such a hot topic. If you can track what a user is actually doing over a period of time it means you can better know what they want right? Well in some cases this is very true, if you take the foursquare problem of not knowing behavior, but could marry what I want (I’m hungry now, 3:00 is when I get coffee, I get a haircut once per month) the ads can become much more powerful.
But, behavior is big right now around standard web properties and display advertising. ┬áIf you someone goes to a page about cologne, then puts something in his cart, then a review site, then comes back an hour later and buys it. You’ll probably want to put the same ads on every person that follows that path, and this can be applied for any pattern. In fact some of the patterns are very odd, perhaps a person browses for trucks for 1 month online, then ends up purchasing a kia. If this is 10% of people, perhaps you could easily increase this to a much higher conversion for showing kia ads to those browsing truck pages.
In most cases I think a highbred works quite well, though some rely more heavily on one piece than another, but the key is figuring out which is more important to your use case because each has their time and place.