Nonprofit fundraisers seeking to raise money online will need to master a blossoming art called “behavioral targeting” (BT).

In a nutshell BT involves tracking netizens as they browse the web (that's their online “behavior”), using the electronic cookies they accumulate in that process. This information is combined with aggregate demographic information about the sites visited. The result is that an online marketer can then target relevant online messages/ads to precisely the folks the data suggests are their prime prospects.

As online fundraisers venture into online prospecting, as opposed to online donor development, sooner (we hope) or later you will need to experiment with targeting strategies like this.

Here are some articles that explain and illustrate the BT process:

What Obama and Clinton Fans View Online … this article illustrates how an analyst can come to the conclusion that Clinton fans dig horror flicks and are in the market for full size vans and Miami vacations. While Obama fans love indie films, luxury vehicles, and are addicted to their Blackberrys. How? By tracking the other websites visited by individuals who first visit those campaign websites.

The Three Ws … this interview explains how different online targeting methodologies can be used together to reach prospects based upon WHO they are, WHAT they like, and WHERE they are. If you're targeting female prospects online, is it good enough to simply stick an ad on iVillage? With BT, not anymore.

Hello, My Name Is Gord, and I've Been Behaviorally Targeted … this amusing piece gives another simple illustration of the BT process. Gord tells how, after a couple of weeks of hopscotching around the Web researching travel arrangements for a trip to China, he visited a totally unrelated site on a completely different matter and was served up an ad for a hotel deal for precisely the location he was interested in. NOT a coincidence! Gord, himself an online marketer, was a bit rattled to see the tables turned. He wonders whether he and others will resort to wrapping their computers in tinfoil!

This previous Agitator post, Wanna Make Millions $$$?, also urges nonprofit fundraisers to look into BT and links to another article describing the process.

Is anyone out there in nonprofitland experimenting with BT? If so, The Agitator would like to hear. Because you deserve a raise!

Tom

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