"The practice of advertising has clearly been revolutionized by the emergence of the Internet. Today, we can match the content of an ad to the interests of the consumer in ways undreamed of just a few short years ago," said Nancy Hill, President & CEO, 4A's (see Industry Tightens Its Standards for Tracking Web Surfers).
One way of matching content of ads to the interests of the consumer is by using Behavioral Targeting (BT) techniques. BT (aka interest-based advertising) uses information collected on an individual's web-browsing behavior, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made, to select which advertisements to display to that individual. Practitioners believe this helps them deliver their online advertisements to the users who are most likely to be interested.
To implement BT, users are tracked using invisible cookies stored on their computers. That is the only way that site D can know a visitor to the site previously visited sites A, B, and C. Site D can then use this information to serve the appropriate ads or other content based on previous visits.
"Ethical issues exist for technologies such as behavioral targeting," said R.J. Lewis, President and CEO e-Healthcare Solutions, Inc. "No one wants to be 'followed' around the Web with a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) ad, simply because they have previously visited a website with HIV-related content. However, health food or gym equipment can be promoted to those who have viewed fitness content or such benign disease categories as allergies or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Behavioral targeting creates a problem with regard to acceptable practices and defining what health care categories may be appropriate for employing behavioral-targeting technologies." (See "Behavioral Targeting: RJ vs JP".)
Survey questions include:
- Have you ever used behavioral targeting in an online advertising campaign?
- Should the pharmaceutical industry adopt similar self-regulatory principles that were established by media and marketing trade associations to protect consumer privacy when employing behavioral targeting.
- Should pharma marketers use behavioral targeting at all?
- If they do use it, when is it appropriate?
Take the survey here. After taking the survey you will be able to view a summary of the results and you will have the opportunity to opt-in for the inclusion of your comments - with attribution - in a future Pharma Marketing News article.