Sites See Future in Net Users’ Past

Several Web publishers, including iVillage and CBS MarketWatch, are hoping to unlock more ad dollars by offering marketers the option to serve ads based on a consumer’s past surfing behavior.

The practice, called “behavioral targeting,” is gaining in popularity as companies such as Tacoda Systems and Revenue Science woo publishers with services that help sites serve ads based on a user’s actions over time. New York-based Tacoda last week struck deals with Primedia’s About, BusinessWeek Online and iVillage. Revenue Science recently signed MarketWatch as a client.

Behavioral targeting lies in the realm between a keyword search and a category-specific ad buy. “We identify the behavior, and we can serve the ad outside of where we identify the behavior,” said Omar Tawakol, svp of product marketing at Bellevue, Wash.-based Revenue Science. “If you’re a technology lover, you’re still a technology lover in the lifestyles section.”

Advertisers and agencies are happy to obtain more information about a Web publisher’s audience. “The more they can tell us about their readers, the better off we are, because that will enable us to do more effective media planning and creative work,” said Eric Wheeler, executive director at OgilvyInteractive in New York.

The price for campaigns of this nature will likely fall between low-end run-of-site and premium page- specific ad efforts, publishers said. Peter Naylor, svp of sales at New York-based iVillage, who is pitching behavioral targeting to financial-services, auto and packaged-goods advertisers, said he expects to command a CPM in the $10-20 range.