Friday, February 6, 2009

Online Advertising - 5 Reasons why Behavioral Targeting might not work in India

Your behaviour can either be tracked when you reveal your intentions or interests on a Web site, which is tracking data OR advertising can be targeted by using an adware installed on your computer.

Let’s face it – Internet advertising can be very annoying. Nasty pop-ads and flashy banner ads almost seem to be everywhere. Worse, these omnipresent ads, rarely contain content of interest to the viewer.

Behavioral Targeting is definitely the future of Online Advertising, but let us look at some points which could be plaguing its growth in India?

  1. Lack of enough Paying Customers:
    Travel is a completely revenue driven domain and one of the prime drivers of e-transactions in India. IRCTC (Indian Railways) is our country’s largest E-Commerce driver. Travel sees an enormous amount of online consumers. But users are still uncomfortable at the thought of making other regular purchases online.

    I would still do all my pre-purchase research of an Electronic gadget online – and prefer buying it offline. Unless the price advantage online is huge (Which is not currently so).

    Behavioral targeting can be used to a certain extent for classifieds – but if a user is surfing a matrimony website, wouldn’t he already know of that particular site? Or would you track this behaviour of his and when he’s on some other site in your network – show him the advertisement of a rival matrimony site?

  2. Lack of Advertisers:
    Behavioral Targeting will work wonders for local advertisers.

    If I’m searching for information about a Vacuum Cleaner and you show me the ad of the nearest shop to my place which sells it – Perfect.

    But how many local shops, restaurants etc currently use the Online medium?

    Then again – franchisee outlets wouldn’t want to advertise on a national level. Would companies looking at mere foot-falls and brand awareness benefit? Often it’s the unpredictability and the curiosity which a banner creates, which is the main reason it results in a click-through.

    Behavioral Targeting would ensure greater ROI for the clients. It would also mean genuine leads, but it would also mean lesser prospective numbers for Marketing Managers to show to their bosses. Agencies would have to sacrifice some income as volumes of banner impressions would be lesser for targeted ads.

    Currently we are in a phase, where everyone is on a customer and number acquisition spree. The value and engagement is something almost everyone is keeping aside for the future.

  3. Massive popularity of Cyber Cafes:
    put it at around 40 million last year and said is set to grow to a 100 million by 2007-08.

    JuxtConsult puts it at 30 million (April 2007).

    Something somewhere is going wrong? Huge deviation of figures! 10 million is no joke!

    Is it because multiple users are using the same internet connection? Massive popularity of cyber café’s? Multiple connection users (Accessing from Work, Home, Public Wi-Fi spots, GPRS etc)?

  4. User Backlash:
    Would I really be comfortable if I knew someone is tracking my surfing trends?
    Google was ranked the worst when it came to handling a user’s privacy.

    It’s a very fine line between invading a user’s privacy and serving him better. Currently getting contextual ads might not appeal to users as a benefit.

  5. Behaviour? :
    What exactly is online behaviour? Does visiting an online travel site – label me as a traveler? Does it mean I’m going to travel all the time? Showing me travel ads all the time won’t really be the smartest of moves – because chances are that if I am a regular traveler, I’d already know about your service and by the time you show me your ad - I might have already booked my tickets.

    Behaviour targeting should be used in sync with user demographics – display of related linked products. Link regular business travelers to a smart phone, executive clothing etc.

    But is there any Ad Network in India this huge? Except for perhaps Google?

Behaviourial Targeting is an exciting concept – but ours is a nation where a company chooses to spam 1 Lakh people and hope for converts rather than reaching out to a few 100 ‘targeted’ guys.

Possible future of Behavioral Targeting in India?

Mobile Advertising. The Mobile Operators are the ones who can really exploit this. They know me – They know who I talk to. Who I send messages to. What kind of wallpapers I download. What kind of music I like (Caller back tunes) etc etc.

Soon with the advent of Local Search on mobile – they’ll know what kind of restaurants I go to, what kind of movies I see…


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