Data Strategy

October 18, 2007

How Acxiom uses offline data for behavioral targeting

Filed under: Advertising, Data Collection, Datamining, People and Data, Personalization — chucklam @ 12:37 am

A really fascinating piece at the WSJ yesterday: Firm Mines Offline Data To Target Online Ads (subscription req.). There’s a particular side-bar that reveals how Acxiom uses offline data for behavioral targeting:

How Acxiom delivers personalized online ads:

  1. Acxiom has accumulated a database of about 133 million households and divided it into 70 demographic and lifestyle clusters based on information available from… public sources.
  2. A person gives one of Acxiom’s Web partners his address by buying something, filling out a survey or completing a contest form on one of the sites.
  3. In an eyeblink, Acxiom checks the address against its database and places a “cookie,” or small piece of tracking software, embedded with a code for that person’s demographic and behavioral cluster on his computer hard drive.
  4. When the person visits an Acxiom partner site in the future, Acxiom can use that code to determine which ads to show…
  5. Through another cookie, Acxiom tracks what consumers do on partner Web sites…

It’s an interesting approach. While Acxiom has offline information on “133 million households,” it’s not clear how many households actually have gotten the offline-tracking cookie.

One can imagine Google really taking advantage of an approach like this. The wide spread use of Google Analytics across web sites already gives Google the potential to track your surfing habit. Specifying your home address when you use Google Maps or Checkout allows Google to match you with offline marketing databases. And we haven’t even talked about your query data and your emails yet…

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