Cogit.com, a San Francisco marketing company, today released RealTarget 2.0, a service that provides consumer profiles and behavior prediction to subscribing online businesses.
In its previous iteration, RealTarget supplied e-tailers with information such as a user’s age, gender, income, geographic area and past purchasing patterns on a given Web site. The new release adds to this existing package the ability to predict customers’ interests.
“RealTarget determines what kind of stuff someone would be interested in and sends the host site that information in a quarter of a second, making it possible for the host to send appropriate material immediately,” said Ralphe Wiggins, Cogit.com’s chief scientist.
The software also keeps track of actions taken by groups of users over time and adjusts the material appropriately. For example, if customers profiled as country music lovers begin buying classical albums, they’ll be served classical music-related material.
The company does not create the ads and promotions, just predictions as to which ones would work best. Cogit.com’s clients include Tower Records, Women.com, ThirdAge, Consumer Broadcast Group and Nexchange. The company does not apply its profiling technology across a Web-wide network of sites.
“We have over 15 online shopping site customers now,” said Hollis Chin, vice president of marketing for Cogit.com.
Cogit.com’s competitors in the profiling area include DoubleClick of New York and Engage Technologies of Andover, Mass. “The closest technology to ours is Engage’s,” said Peter Corrao, CEO of Cogit.com. “We’re different because Engage focuses only on online behavior.”
Wiggins said, “The profiles supplied to us by Polk Company [of Southfield, Mich.] include demographic information such as age, gender, income and so forth. Polk gets information from the census, surveys, warranty cards people send in, car registrations and so forth. They have a whole network of information sources. This gives us data on site visitors that Engage doesn’t have.”
It is true that Engage looks only at online behavior, according to Mike Mayzel, an Engage spokesperson. “We feel that it’s a good indicator of how a person is likely to act in the future on the Net,” he said. “We don’t feel we need to know who a person is. We don’t collect specific demographic information such as address, date of birth and so forth, but we can infer age ranges and gender.”
According to Corrao, neither does Cogit.com. “When demographic information is forwarded to us by Polk Company,” said Corrao, “individuals’ names and addresses are removed. We do not give data to third-party marketers, and we do not share information on customers with other Cogit.com clients.”
Online privacy has been a hot issue for profiling companies since DoubleClick got into legal trouble this year for meshing online and offline databases to send targeted advertisements.
Said Corrao, “The goal here is fine-tuning the level of precision to give our clients a higher return on their investment.”
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