Thursday, March 06, 2008

Online Ads

In the New York Times article "Online Pitches Made Just For You", it describes techniques used by Alaska Airlines that many consumers are most likely unaware of. Alaska Airlines is introducing a system on the Internet to create unique ads for people as they cruise the web.

This is slightly different from direct mail or telemarketing because companies do not know the consumers name; instead, consumers are identified by their computers, using cookies.

Alaska Airlines uses a range of information to select the ads for each individual consumer surfing the web, including the person's geographic location, the number of times they have seen an Alaska Airlines ad, whether the person visited the company's website, the persons purchase history with the airline and their experience with lost bags, delays and flight cancellations.

Since Alaska Airlines is a small operation,it is important that its ads narrowly aim at people who might actually fly to the particular areas they service. The first phase of the new system even offers different flight prices to different people by analyzing how price sensitive certain consumers seem to be. Another data practice used at Alaska Airlines is called "re-targeting" which records who visits the web site and then turns that information over to the airline's ad delivery company. Next, when those people are elsewhere on the web, they are shown the ad. This means that people who visit Alaska Airlines' site receives ads that are different from those seen by people who have not.

Tracking individual actions and responding intelligently is a sure way to build a stronger business.

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