One important endorsement of the IAB’s approach came from the UK government via the Digital Britain report, however. Not only did the report welcome the IAB’s approach, it also highlighted the role behavioural targeting has in growing the industry. But a note of caution was sounded at last month’s Marketing Week Live! event by IAB head of regulatory affairs Nick Stringer. He warned that despite the Government’s acceptance of industry self-regulation in general, and of behavioural targeting in particular, the issue is still causing controversy at a European level.
The other problem with greater use of behavioural targeting by media owners is that site-based, and to a lesser extent network-based, approaches are struggling with numbers. Behavioural targeting works best when it creates segments containing large numbers of people, but on a lot of sites the audience simply isn’t big enough. This is why media owners are now looking to share data from non-competing sites in a bid to increase the pool of data from which they can build their segments.
Enter Google. The search giant is running trials of its behavioural targeting network with selected advertisers ahead of a full launch later this year. It believes its size means it can bring both scale and granularity to the sector for advertisers; it should also mean that internet users quickly see a rise in the number of targeted ads they get. And once the industry is seen to be keeping its side of the targeting bargain, customer acceptance of the new social contract around this type of advertising should start to rise to everyone’s advantage.