Behavioral Targeting & Descriptive Marketing: Differences Explained

Understanding Behavioral Targeting and Descriptive Marketing

Many companies have heeded the importance of online marketing and the importance of marketing strategies to promote its products to designated demographics.  Though descriptive marketing and behavioral targeting strategies are similar, each targets consumers in different ways.

Behavioral targeting is an online marketing strategy that, as the name implies, uses data concerning an individual’s web browsing behavior to display specific advertisements.  On the web, descriptive marketing campaigns attempt to successfully pitch a product to a market by studying and utilizing data that detail the lives and online preferences of the people in that market.  Whereas behavioral targeting targets individuals, descriptive marketing targets a defined market or segment of a market.

Behavioral Targeting – Explained

Behavioral targeting, or behavioral marketing, largely relies on advertising networks to define an individual’s browsing patterns.  Online advertisers embed small bits of data, called cookies, onto a person’s computer, which then record and report that person’s browsing behavior.  Marketers then use this data to determine which products to advertise to that person, as well as the best way to do so.  In response to consumer privacy concerns, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission enforces several statutes aimed at regulating behavioral targeting campaigns, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

Descriptive Marketing – Explained

Descriptive marketing tactics separate the markets and market segments that are likely to be interested in a product.  Rather than targeting an individual, descriptive marketing strategies gather data that describe the demographic that is most likely to purchase the product, how they will use it and why.  People working on descriptive marketing campaigns rely on existing marketing information to contextualize the research they will conduct in order to best pair a product with a consumer group.  A marketer must be in a position to clearly define measured market trends, and which actions she plans to take based upon research.

Descriptive marketing and behavioral targeting campaigns both attempt to customize advertising efforts in order to entice customers to buy a product.  Behavioral targeting is a much narrower and more automated process than descriptive marketing.  Behavioral targeting approaches each person as his own market, with advertising content that is unique to his interests.  Though descriptive marketing tactics also customize advertising and marketing efforts, they do so by pitching a product to an entire demographic instead of an individual.

Behavioral Targeting and Descriptive Marketing Wrap-up:

Marketing campaigns ultimately aim to introduce customers to products that might interest them.  For example, a descriptive marketing campaign may target readers of a financial blog with an advertisement offering a business credit card at an especially low interest rate.  Conversely, a behavioral targeting campaign would target  one specific blog reader with the same advertisement based on how cookies report her browsing history to the marketers in charge of the campaign.

Interested in learning more about behavioral targeting?  Here’s a short list of services and tools you may find interesting:

Evergage Behavioral TargetingEvergage’s cloud-based platform empowers marketers to increase engagement and conversions of website visitors and users through real-time web personalization based on deep behavioral analytics…without the need for developers.
Perfect Audience Behavioral TargetingPerfect Audience is a retargeting platform that lets businesses bring back lost customers and get more sales effortlessly.
DataXUDataXu is transforming the way companies build their brands in a digital world through the industry’s only fully integrated programmatic marketing solution.
Struq Behavioral TargetingStruq is an online ad personalization platform, delivering 1:1 personalized marketing at scale for advertisers looking to acquire highly profitable customers. Struq personalizes ads to users, resulting in truly relevant ads which contain products and messages a user wants to see.
Lytics Lytics is a cross-channel customer data platform that easily integrates with your existing marketing tools.
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