An interesting piece by Saul Hansell in today’s NY Times titled “Yahoo Reveals (Some) Details About Its Ad Plans“. While there was lots of good information on what Yahoo! is trying to take on here, what caught my attention was this part:
“It is also making a big play in behavioral targeting: tracking data about users in order to show them ads for things they are most likely to buy. While Yahoo has watched behavior for years on its own network, it will now start accumulating behavior of users on the sites of other companies.”
This capability comes as a result of their recent Blue Lithium acquisition, which had been operating a behavioral ad network competing with the likes of Tacoda (now part of AOL) and Revenue Science. But what struck me about this announcement is what I recently explained to a friend, that Facebook should have been the one making this announcement given the amount of information they know about their members. This, rather than the ill-fated Beacon program, which was clearly violating members’ privacy, even if Facebook was just trying to push on the edges of innovation a tad.
Facebook could easily have extended itself as a behavioral ad network which in turn would have enabled it to better understand its members activities outside of its own site. It could have moved down this path without anyone so much as batting an eye. Now with Yahoo!, Google and AOL playing this game, and Revenue Science as the last significant independent player in this space, I’m not sure that the opportunity remains as solid for Facebook, but I guess time will tell. Me thinks that their monetization woes could have been put behind them had they opted to pursue the behavioral ad targeting direction.