The search engines are preparing to make ads more targeted by incorporating user data like profiles and search history into the search mechanism. According to Steve Smith, Microsoft expects the new technology to have a big impact:
The company is promising unprecedented “transparency,” giving ad buyers more direct views of actual MSN audience data in order to make ad placement decisions based on several targeting considerations that are new to search.
Advertisers will have to decide how much they value this additional information:
The question for marketers becomes, how much more will they pay to know the person they are advertising to visited–say–the SUV pages of MSN Auto before typing “cars” into the search box? Rather than buying ads against words and context, you are buying against people and their likely habits. “What adCenter is doing already is changing the game,” says Li. “You can already target day parts and geography, and now add to that behavior.”
There’s no question that the addition of behavioral data will make search engine marketing more complex. How exactly will individual searchers be assessed, and how will ad buyers bid on them? We’ll find out next spring when MSN rolls out its enhanced system.
The issue of privacy always comes up in discussions of behavioral targeting, but Marquette Law School’s Eric Goldman says we need to rethink the “us vs. them??? idea that pits the internet user against the advertiser:
the more that mentality gets reinforced, the more it feels like the marketers are doing something that [consumers] shouldn’t want them to do. And that’s just garbage. Marketers and consumers have aligned interests; they want to make socially beneficial matches. Consumers want a match that’s going to help them find what they’re looking for, and marketers want to cater to consumers’ needs.