Behavioral Targeting

The Holy Grail of Marketing

A recent article by Harvard Business Review very succinctly gets at the heart of marketing success.

“Targeting individuals with perfectly customized offers at the right moment across the right channel is marketing’s holy grail.”


The article, “Know What Your Customer Want Before They Do,” explores the idea of “next best offers” or NBOs. Supplying your customers with an NBO, even if that “next” offer is a first-time communication is the true key to success.

Once upon a time there were more active salespeople in everyday consumer life, someone who could not only assist the customer with what they wanted but also recommend alternatives and additional products that the customer might not have otherwise thought about. This practice has fallen away with more consumers shopping online, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something even better to get them to buy more.

Behavioral targeting uses the consumer’s demographics as well as their online and offline history and preferences to predict things they might be interested in even if they don’t know it yet.

Adage had a similarly focused article on how using demographics alone has a disconnect for targeting consumers, because there is no more “average 32-year-old woman”; what consumers say they want or what buckets they might fit into demographically aren’t always the same as what their behavior tells us their actual purchase patterns will lead to.

“Appealing to consumers’ unique needs and concerns enables brands to differentiate their message from irrelevant offers targeting the same demographic. It gives their audience a reason to open an email, engage with the brand and build constructive dialogue that rewards them for engaging.”


It’s as simple as being able to send the right message at the right time and through the right channel.