Since the introduction of online banner advertising, a generation of marketers has been trained in the power of behavioral targeting. Those marketers live and breathe intent data while championing the value of prepackaged cookie segments.
But as marketing moves toward personalization—a trend that mobile has not merely made possible, but inevitable—it's becoming clear that behavior isn't the Holy Grail many claimed it was. After all, isn't it much more valuable to know who your customer is, rather than to draw inferences from their most recent behavior?
In parallel, B2B marketers are investing heavily in account-based marketing programs that harness improved CRM matching, account transparency and built-in attribution. For B2B marketers, onboarding the customer, not their behavior, has always been the essential focus. But as B2C marketers shift to a greater emphasis on personalization, and as martech continues to merge with adtech, the efficiency of an account-based approach becomes incredibly important.
In effect, the attributes B2C marketers need most are the full capabilities that have historically been associated with direct marketing. And where is that more apparent than in a mobile world where the cookie has crumbled, and the device ID means marketers no longer have to guess at whom they're talking to?
In the race to provide customers with a transparent, omnichannel experience, some marketers are probably wondering whether it makes sense to combine behavioral targeting with an account-based approach. After all, once you know whom you're reaching, doesn't it make sense to layer on additional data about their behavioral?
At first glance, the combination of direct marketing with behavioral targeting should create a stronger engagement profile. In practice, however, behavioral targeting diminishes the quality of leads, which is why the arrival of account-based marketing means we're in the last days of behavioral targeting.
How Direct Marketing and Behavioral Conflict With Each Other
Imagine that a pharmaceutical marketer wants to reach oncologists. Through standard direct marketing tactics—office and hospital affiliations, medical registry data, and IP addresses—the marketer can often create a deterministic match to physicians and their specialties, and from that match derive an audience.
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