Fusion targeting: New mantra for net advertisers

By , agencyfaqs! | In | August 16, 2001
Yahoo! India plans to launch its new service of fusion targeting in September


Talk to the right people. At the right time. That's what the secret of effective communication is.

The latest innovation in advertising on the Internet - fusion targeting - to be introduced by Yahoo! India, in September, is trying to do precisely that. "If demographic targeting and content targeting are the first two levels, then fusion targeting is the third. We are looking at the first mover advantage in this area," says Deepak Chandnani, country head, Yahoo! India. Companies like Dell and Compaq regularly use fusion targeting in the United States, where the service was introduced two years ago.

Fusion targeting is a step ahead from the earlier types of targeting on the net - demographic- and content based. In the first, broad profiles are created - say, of metro-based males in the age group of 28 to 35, who have an income of more than Rs 10,000 per month, and who regularly surf the net. In content-based targeting profiles of surfers who visit certain sites are recorded.

Fusion targeting is expected to be much more precise. Databanks are created by combining the advantages of the two - the demographic knowledge with the type of content that is looked at. For example, with fusion targeting, databanks that give accurate profiles of surfers who are searching for, say a car, and are looking to finance it, can be made. Such profiles would be invaluable to advertisers - carmakers and finance companies - who can then beam ads for cars, and finance options, whenever the surfer logs on.

Sharat Israni, research head, data mining and fusion targeting, Yahoo!, puts it in perspective. "What we end up with is a premium databank which is extraordinarily accurate. Not only can we provide a databank to an airline company of surfers who visit airline sites, we could also break it up, according to the type of class - economy or luxury - that the surfers searched for, the type of travel - business or leisure - and so on."

Such profiling tends to skip the dubious data that Internet surfers provide in questionnaires on the net. Instead, by checking how many times a particular surfer visits a site over, say, a month or so, the system is more accurate. As Chandnani wryly puts it, "If somebody visits a temple every Tuesday, it is reasonable to assume that he is religious. It is the same principle at work here."

However, privacy concerns abound. Yahoo! does admit on its site that information collected could be used for targeted advertising. In the process, as it is an individual's surfing habits that are being looked at, it is possible, in theory at least, to tally URL addresses, with real life addresses and create a chillingly accurate profile. However, Yahoo! is not giving out individual addresses, but only profiles of select groups.

Fusion targeting also has its limitations. Points out Sandeep Tarkas, associate vice-president and manager, MindShare, "Fusion targeting can be used only to attract niche audiences. It might work for such services as financial services or cars, but with products that have a much broader appeal, such as mass consumed consumer goods, traditional media is bound to be more attractive."

On the face of it, fusion targeting looks extremely effective for the marketing of services. In fact, worldwide, fusion targeting has the highest effectiveness for service products. On the other hand, for mass products, like soaps or detergents, fusion targeting does not make much sense. Bimal Nair, associate vice-president, client servicing, I-Contract, Mumbai, puts things in perspective, "Of course, the big middle class is not there, but most SEC-A people are net savvy and they log on to research products regularly. That is the advantage of fusion targeting."

Another stumbling block could be the divergent buying behaviour of the Indian consumer. Unlike in the West, where a lot of research is done before shopping, the average Indian consumer tends to buy on the basis of word-of-mouth recommendations, influenced by traditional media, or on the basis of prices and offers. And in all these, it is traditional media advertising, with its catchy jingles and imagery, which scores. However, as V. Ramani, chief executive officer, Mediaturf.com, says, "What we are talking about is a certain cluster of people who regularly log on to the net to find information. And targeting them is going to be effective."

Yahoo! hopes so too.

© agencyfaqs! 2001