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Third-Party Data Joins Up with Behavioral Tracking

Companies are developing new ways to track and segment consumers online, even as legislation and industry regs potentially loom for this activity. Google's last search tweak is the most recent - and most visible - update to this technology. Other new applications are focusing on enhancing the latest in behavioral tracking with third party data.

Google has just expanded its Personalized Search function to apply to signed-out users as well. Previously, Personalized Search was only enabled for signed-in users - and only when they had Web History enabled on their Google Accounts. Expanding it to signed-out users allows Google to customize search results based upon 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in the user's browser.

What Will You Buy

A growing number of companies are enhancing behavioral tracking with third party data, with the goal of predicting with as much precision as possible what consumers will buy and then advertise around that intent. MediaMath, a digital media buying platform and services company, has partnered with BlueKai, a provider of online consumer intent data that aggregates anonymous data, to provide such as service. The agency recently helped an automaker target internet users who were shopping for specific classes of cars. It used impression-level bidding against in-market auto shopping data to deliver five times the targeting accuracy, it claims.

Next Jump is also focusing on this area, with the potential to become a game changer for the industry, according to the New York Times.  Next Jump has been gathering credit-card transaction data from American Express and MasterCard. It then analyzes that data to draw inferences about what a person would be likely to buy, and at what price. Its network also includes 28,000 retailers who can specify the characteristics of customers - age, location, income, for example - that they are most interested in luring with certain products. Next Jump’s software then tailors offerings to small segments of potential customers, down to individuals, often reaching them with e-mail alerts.

Next Jump network's click-through rate is 60%, according to the company - compared to the industry average of 5%.

Social Media Monitoring

Other companies are focusing on users' social networks - specifically what they post on their sites, and even more intriguingly, who their friends are - to determine buying internet. Rapleaf, a company that tracks consumers on social media, says it can predict which ads a consumer will pay attention to and even whether or not he or she is a worthwhile a worthwhile risk for a credit card or a loan - all based on who that person's friends are online.

"Who you hang around with has empirical implications with how you behave," says Jewitt, Rapleaf's vice president of business development. "This is a new type of information. It's still an evolving science, but the results have been positive." (via Fast Company) For one company, Rapleaf adapted ads based on friends' responses - and tripled the click-through rate. A friends network can also be used to enhance credit scoring based on their social graph. In short, if your friends are not deadbeats, then likely you are not one either, Jewitt explained.

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