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Apr 03, 2006
How To

Inside Hyundai's Online Advertising Tactics: What Works for Behavioral and Launch Campaigns

SUMMARY: According to MarketingSherpa's interview with Hyundai's Interactive Marketing Manager Robert Brown, all the hype around behavioral targeting isn't without substance. Brown's getting two-three times better response rates when his online media buys are behaviorally targeted (vs run of network.) But, he warns, the extra costs some publishers charge may not be worth it.
"I'm excited about behavioral, personally," says Robert Brown, Hyundai Motor America Interactive Marketing Manager.

Brown often buys online media via ad networks to get a "lot of reach at a relatively low CPM." He notes, "If on those same networking buys, I apply a targeting technology on the same type of inventory, I see higher returns."

How much higher? Brown hasn't run a true A/B test on targeted vs non-targeted buys (something he is planning to do in the near future). However, he says, he believes from experience that behaviorally targeted media buys can be as much as two or three times as effective.

We talked with Brown on his advice on behavioral targeting, as well as how he plans online ad campaigns for new product launches.

Brown's behavioral targeting advice

"There are a lot of ways to think of targeting," Brown explains. First, there's content "adjacencies," where you place an ad adjacent to content that attracts a group with certain affinities.

Then, there's technology that can serve behavioral-based ads by identifying when people are behaving in a certain way at a certain place.

For example, if Brown wanted to advertise the Hyundai Sonata to people interested in sedans, he could target people who have visited car sites, or people who have visited the sedan segments of car sites.

When done correctly, targeting works, Brown says. But how to go about doing it? First, start small, he suggests.

o Tip #1. Consider your assumptions of the target

What are you assuming about your target demographic's online behavior? Think of the above sample for the Hyundai Sonata: Is it enough to target people who have visited car sites, in the belief that you can convince them to be interested in sedans in general and in your sedan specifically? Or is it better to define your audience as those who have visited a sedan segment?

Frequency is another assumption to look at. You can assume someone who has been to a sedan section of an automotive site two or three times is certainly a more targeted prospect than someone who has only done it once.

Remember, though, that the more narrowly defined your target is, you may get higher response rates but less reach.

o Tip #2. Find a baseline to evaluate your success

Don't blindly trust behavorial targeting hype (bound to soar after the recent glowing report from Forrester). While behavoral targeting works, it's *not* always worth the premium price that publishers put on it.

Begin trying a campaign or two to track conversions. Here's a key: don't track conversions based on price, at first. Just look at conversions based on impressions served.

Once you learn how your ads are converting, you can use that data to negotiate with publishers on price, saying, "That ad worked pretty well but not at this price point."

Publishers are still pretty flexible when it comes to negotiating behavioral ad space. By testing and tracking, you put yourself in the driver's seat when it comes to negotiations.

o Tip #3. Test, test, test

Before going whole-hog on a behavioral targeting campaign, sample a couple of different technologies and sites. Use different third-party ad servers, look at their data and discover which mesh most closely with your needs.

Brown's tips on online ads for product launches

Brown brought up something that is the bane of plenty of companies' existences: building flexibility into media buys that are built around new product launches.

"Think of Sony PS3," he says. "How much time do you think they spent planning for it? The product slips, and they're stuck holding the bag."

What do you do with the resources you've already spent? At Hyundai, they plan for delayed product launches by building as much flexibility as they can into the process. For example:

--Create a set of plan B's

Brown makes sure he has a set of campaigns or stories that will allow him to take advantage of non-locked online media inventory. When a specific product slips, there's a secondary objective that can be slipped into place.

"We keep it in the backs of our minds that we can utilize this space for another car that is more or less in the same demographic segment," he explains.

--Reserve customized buys for later in the campaign

The more customized the media buy, the more difficult it is to be flexible with regards to a launch plan.

So Brown makes sure that any ad that's beyond a plug-and-play is planned for later in the campaign.

For example, if he's working with a site on sponsored content where a new car is being integrated into sections of the site in a way that can't be taken down and put up at whim, he plans that part of the campaign for one to three months past the launch for a product manufactured in the US (three to six months for one being made overseas).

If things proceed as planned, the sponsored content is part of the sustained marketing program. If the launch is pushed back, the sponsored content becomes part of the launch.

Everything else you plan, you should do so assuming you have a product that could benefit from the inventory, he says.

Depending on how much you spend with a publisher, you can also help them switch inventory with other advertisers who might benefit from the space. "The industry is still the Wild West," says Brown. "You just need to make things work the way you can, and everybody does that on a daily basis."

By the way, we also asked Brown what's behind the oft-reported TV vs Internet ad spend shift in automotive. His take: "TV is still a very important part [for Hyundai]. We've shifted things away from some other media. TV isn't the biggest loser."

"But," he adds, "The web is the biggest winner by a long shot."

Useful links related to this article:

Want to meet Robert Brown in person? He's speaking at April's ad:tech show in San Francisco:

Third-party ad servers Hyundai uses
o Revenue Science:
o WhenU:


See Also:

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