What is Behavioral Targeting?

In the world of digital marketing, it is no longer enough to send targeted messages based solely on your contacts’ demographics or interests. Effective marketing also uses data about how their audience interacts with their business. This is behavioral targeting. 

Behavioral targeting makes highly personalized timely marketing possible by pairing contact data with real-time information about the actions that those contacts make online. Developing marketing messages for behaviors that are most important to your business allows you to better target people in your audience and create more personalized experiences for higher engagement and a greater return on your marketing investments. In this article, you will learn about the basics of behavioral targeting, the benefits of using strategies, the process, and the different types of behavioral targeting.

behavioral targeting

The Basics of Behavioral Targeting

In the past, marketing to consumers was based on actions and how many pages they visited on a site. These could tell you in a broad manner what a customer might find interesting but didn’t provide in-depth details. Behavioral targeting is a marketing method that uses web user information to strengthen advertising campaigns. The technique involves gathering data from a variety of sources about the potential customers’ online browsing and shopping behaviors. This information helps create ads that are relevant to that specific user’s habits and interests. The publisher can then display these ads in the visitor’s web browser. Behavioral targeting is good for business because personalized marketing is more effective than generic marketing. It’s also good for consumers, who will no longer see content that isn’t relevant to them.

You can use behavioral targeting data to create audience segments based on actions or inactions. By segmenting your audience based on similar behaviors, it’s easy to send people in each segment timely, tailored marketing messages that correspond to the action that they have taken. The marketing campaigns also reflect their stage in their buyer journey.

The primary purpose of this technique is to deliver advertising messages to the people who are showing the most interest. The process involves compiling web searches, purchase histories, frequently visited websites, and other information to create a full user profile. This profile reveals what your audience wants, avoids, and purchases. Using these data points, companies can formulate ads and align with the individual user tracker preferences and needs. They can do so without conveying messages the user would find unappealing or irrelevant. 

Why Use Behavioral Marketing?

Behavioral targeting may be data-centered, but its benefits are much more tangible than any abstract number system. Behavioral targeting tactics increase engagement, although that looks different for every business. Your goal may be for a site visitor to download your app, purchase a product, read more articles, or anything else. When your marketing content is personalized, it has a much higher success rate than generic suggestions. Focusing campaigns on behavioral target markets not only benefits the advice advertiser but the consumers as well. 

Increase User Engagement

Behavioral marketing grants publishers access to habits of engaging with specific marketing material. With one-click ads, consumers can be redirected to online storefronts and gain intel on the company in a matter of seconds. However, without advertisements to create a sense of interest, they may be less willing to engage initially. Once the user accesses the company’s website, the brand can offer content from other areas of the site, increasing clicks and activity for target ads down the line

Higher Number of Ad Click-Throughs

A personalized ad that captures the viewers’ likes and needs is a much more useful tool in helping consumers move down the purchasing pipeline than a generic banner ad without relevant apparel. Upon initial exposure to a highly desired product, an interested viewer is much more likely to seek information and continue to check out. 

Improve Conversion Rates

Advertisements that reach a behavioral target market have a higher appeal to those who view them. This appeal increases the chance that users will proceed to request more information or complete a purchase. With the techniques of behavioral advertising, companies can see an increase in sales and repeat customers, enjoying higher profits overall. 

behavioral advertising

Benefits of Behavioral Targeting for Consumers

In turn, the viewer also benefits from behavioral targeting in three ways: 

A More Exciting Ad Experience

Online users don’t always enjoy the idea of giving up personal information to advertisers. However, they often find it more frustrating when the ads they encounter are irrelevant and unengaging. That is why a recent study found 71% of consumers prefer more personalized ads, even if they need to expose their click and purchase habits in exchange. When the ads are more personalized, viewers find their browsing experience more enjoyable overall, leading to a higher user satisfaction. 

Higher Efficiency in the Online Shopping Process

When ads for products that interest them are prominent in their web browser, consumers can click through to access online storefronts quickly. They are often automatically redirected to the page about the particular product highlighted in the ad. From there, adding the item to the shopping cart and proceeding to check out only involves a few easy steps.

Reminders and Alerts for New Products

By continuously seeing ads for products they find attractive, viewers can keep up with new releases and stay informed about brands they enjoy. Additionally, if a user leaves without completing an online purchase, a personalized ad by the company may remind them to go back and finalize the transaction. 

As consumers engage with personalized ads, they have a more favorable shopping experience. And the advertiser also reaps the rewards of better sales and website activity. This increases the company’s overall popularity and profit.

behavioral marketing

Types of Behavioral Targeting

There are two main types of behavioral targeting: onsite and network. 

Onsite Behavioral Targeting

Onsite behavioral targeting happens within a particular website and is typically a part of web personalization. Users receive ads based on behavioral data gathered on the pages of the same site. This method plays a significant role in building a more streamlined and relevant experience for the users. Onsite behavioral targeting allows advertisers and publishers to display relevant content, recommended products, and promotions to users who are visiting the site. This way, users are more willing to engage with the site, spend more time browsing, and convert, which is performing a desired action like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

Network Behavioral Targeting

With this type of behavioral targeting, advertisers make implied choices for consumers. Advertisers can categorize the audience based on things like their interests and purchase intent. The data for this comes from the advertiser’s website, which is used for retargeting and personalization. Algorithms are then used to crunch data and assign users to segments. These algorithms are able to assume the age, gender, and possible purchase decisions of users. For example, if someone repeatedly visits female fashion and salon websites, it would be reasonable to assume they are female. 

behavioral target marketing

Behavioral Targeting Process

Now that you know the basics of what behavioral targeting is, and the different types, let’s get into the behavioral advertising process. This process is one that is simple, yet extremely effective in allowing your company’s ad campaigns to thrive and give you effective results.

Collection and Analysis of Data

User data comes from a range of sources, but it’s typically done via tracking pixels, also known as third-party cookies, and stored in a DMP or other ad tech platform like a DSP. The more data, the more accurate the targeting. The collected data is analyzed and used to create user segments.


Users are clustered into segments by behavior. For example, these segments could be people who travel a lot, people who like bikes, or people who often turn to the same product category. By clustering your users into segments, you can easily show your ad campaigns to the audience that will most likely take action from them. 

Application of Data

Ad campaigns are implemented to match a specific user segment, making the advertising more relevant for specific groups of users and increasing the likelihood of conversions and responses. Apart from using data collected by DMPs and other AdTech platforms, behavioral targeting can be enriched with data pulled from registered users profiles.

Registered users make a purchase in an online store. Those sales along with the user’s site navigation history are often stored and analyzed to make targeted offers the next time the user comes online. 

Unregistered users can be targeted using cookie information saved on the customer’s browser. When the user visits the site again, the web server receives the cookie, making it possible to target the user. This works unless the user has deleted the cookie. There’s also a way to collect and check data through internet service providers. Then, the data is sold to marketing and ad serving companies to deliver more personalized ads. This is a common practice, as many ads are placed thanks to the behavioral data from third parties.

Implement Behavioral Targeting Strategies Today

Implementing these strategies when you are creating personalized ad campaigns can allow your business to thrive. If you are finding that you are struggling as a business to implement the strategy successfully, contact us today.


  • What does behavioral targeting mean?
  • Why should you use behavioral targeting?
  • How is behavioral targeting information collected?
  • What are the different types of behavioral targeting?
  • What are the basics of behavioral targeting?

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