Getting Started With Behavioral Ad Targeting: Lessons for Law Firms

Getting Started With Behavioral Ad Targeting: Lessons for Law Firms

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Getting Started With Behavioral Ad Targeting: Lessons for Law Firms

A recent study showed that behavioral targeting outperforms contextual ad targeting by 22 percent.  If your law firm has been looking for a new strategy to target only the people most likely to become conversions, behavioral ad targeting may be just what you need.  Keep reading to find out more about the data behind the transition to behavioral systems, and why behavioral ad targeting isn't just a fad.

Demographics vs. Behavioral Data: Which Works Best?

Today, many attorneys have been able to capitalize on two types of advertising.  The first, contextual ads, involve a user seeing ads that are based on the context of the website they're using.  Contextual ads have been used by many law firms for targeting clients who are likely to need legal assistance.

Lawyers have also relied on demographic data to decide who to show their message to.  Some services, like the direct ad services from both LinkedIn and Facebook, make advertising based on a desired client's demographic criteria easy and fast.

However, when compared to both of these methods for targeting clients, behavioral ad targeting outperforms them handily.  Studies have shown that behavioral advertising can actually be up to twice as effective as advertising based on demographics or context alone.  What's more, studies have shown that very few websites are actually taking advantage of behavioral targeting so far.  This means that you have an opportunity to use behavioral ad targeting before much of your competition.

Using Behavioral Ad Targeting for Segmentation

Today, great advertising campaigns rely on extensive segmentation.  You can't just use the same advertisement for everybody, because their idea of an appealing ad will be different.  What behavioral ad targeting allows you to do is segment how your ads act depending on how someone has behaved in the past.

Ideally, once a website uses sufficient behavioral targeting, two different potential clients will see very different things when they land on the home page.  For instance, someone who has been recently reviewing a lot of websites pertaining to divorce may be shown a deep link to part of your webpage where divorces are discussed thoroughly.

Now, not every website will be able to create totally different user experiences using behavioral ad targeting.  However, you should be thinking about ways in which you can differentiate experience with behavioral targeting to make your potential clients more likely to call.  Depending on a client's behavior, your “call to action” on a landing page may differ.  

You can be as creative as you want to with behavioral targeting: odds are, someone makes the software to help you make your targeting dreams a reality.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost: Behavioral Targeting and Remarketing

When someone looks at your website, more often than not they'll leave it rather than making a call right away.  One of the best ways to turn those hits into clients is to “remarket,” that is, to show them another ad for your law firm after they've already closed your website.

Remarketing is a form of behavioral ad targeting that Google now makes easy.  Using Google's tools, you can now ensure that potential clients see an ad for your firm whenever they search after visiting your website—even if their searches aren't necessarily related to their legal issue.

Science has proven why this method works: the short and long term memory.  Long term memory is best stimulated by repetition, so behavioral ad targeting relies on putting your images and information in front of people more than once.

Avoiding Privacy Invasion Issues

While studies show that behavioral targeting is effective, other studies indicate that Americans are wary about it.  Consumers tend to believe they aren't affected by behavioral targeting, with only 15 percent saying that they would be most likely to purchase a product or service because of behavioral ad targeting.

Because behavioral targeting typically relies upon “cookies” that track a person's internet behavior, there are some ethics concerns.  You should always make sure that people are informed about any cookies being used on your website.

You should also use only the most reputable behavioral targeting services.  If behavioral data leaks through any kind of invasion of privacy, you don't want your client base to be compromised.  The amount of behavioral data that is collected by behavioral targeting services could be a hacker's wildest dream.

It's also very important to avoid scaring off your clients with behavioral ad targeting on your website.  Differentiating user experiences is great, but if your website visitors feel like the amount of information you know is “creepy” or “spooky,” they're likely to leave and never come back, fearing a major invasion of privacy.

Could Behavioral Ad Targeting Land You In Hot Water?

Another cautionary tale comes in the form of a complaint against an attorney who used what he thought were clever behavioral targeting techniques.  He actually tried to capitalize on people who were searching for the services of his biggest competitor, underselling a larger law firm and meeting with some success.

The complaint alleges that this was unethical behavior that should be prohibited by the state bar association.  Because behavioral targeting is relatively new, this is a very rapidly developing field from a legal perspective and you should always check with your state or local bar before beginning a new behavioral ad campaign.

Final Thoughts: The Future of Behavioral Ad Targeting

As behavioral targeting matures, it's likely that the amount of data marketers will obtain will be even greater.  The range of behaviors that you will be able to target in the future will likely be much wider than it is today.

However, as an attorney, you'll have to decide what kind of targeting to use based not only on your bar association's recommendations.  Your own personal sense of ethics and fair play, as well as that of your clients, will be of paramount importance when you're trying to decide how far to go with tracking behavior.  If you're committed to finding a great behavioral targeting solution, you'll be able to find something that works without feeling like an invasion.

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