Life is a trade-off. My dad used to say, ''You can do anything you want. You just can't do everything you want.'' Saying yes to one thing means saying no to many, many others. It makes logical sense, but just about everyone still has trouble with it.
EMarketer.com came out with an article that says it all: behavioral targeting is great, as long as you have the data. The trade-off is a loss of reach. Here's a quote:
Chris Kilkes, interactive media manager at Godfrey Q & Partners, said, ''The biggest problem with testing different kinds of behavioral segments is maybe we are only reaching 10,000 people on a specific site, like NYTimes.com. When you are talking about reach and trying to get frequency, that becomes pretty problematic.
''Why do I spend 10 grand on 10,000 people?'' Mr. Kilkes continued. ''Of course you would say, 'Well, that's a richer audience.' That's one of the big challenges for behavioral is you're narrowing your universe so much.''
And that's why online marketers fall back on old-school demographic targeting. It's just plain easier. Are you wasting money? Almost certainly. But at least it doesn't look like you're spending 10 grand on an audience of 10,000 people.
In my opinion, marketers are only fooling themselves with this kind of thinking. Yes, you get more reach -- but with the wrong audience. And when you're ''reaching'' the wrong audience, you're contributing to the clutter and irrelevance that is the enemy of marketing. Is there a stronger word than ''enemy''? Whatever that word is, that's what clutter and irrelevance are to your marketing campaigns.
That's why no one pays attention to your relevant advertising -- because there's so much irrelevance out there. That's why click-through rates have dropped drastically since the beginning of banner ads. That's why response rates to every other form of direct marketing have declined. People can't like or feel good about watching twelve irrelevant commercials for every ten minutes of television. They hate it. And they prove it by getting DVRs and fast-forwarding every chance they get.
Let's not try to do everything anymore. Let's do the right thing and only market to the audience that could possibly be interested in our products or services.