The New York Times published an article last week about how Alaska Airlines is now able to personalize ads on the Internet using behavioral targeting. As a Seattleite and frequent Alaska Airlines customer, I’ve always been impressed with the innovations that they have brought to market. They were early adopters of personalized mileage plan statements via email and are continuously improving their website to provide a world-class online experience. It’s apparent they are innovating again.
In the article, it is described how they will be taking data from the pages and destinations you visit on Alaska's own site -- but didn’t buy a ticket -- and will tag you as someone interested in that specific destination (Hawaii, for example). Then, as you are seen on other sites on the internet (the NY Times for example), they will serve you ads that present you special offers to that destination you were researching (such as "Hawaii for as low as $250, learn more"). It sounds incredibly sophisticated and is the perfect application for behavioral targeting technology.
I am very curious how concerns – and potential legislation – regarding online privacy will shape the future of behavioral targeting.
Here's my favorite quote from the article:
Mr. Gould of Alaska Airlines is quick to admit that data drives online marketing, and does not mince words when asked about his view of other marketing professionals who are more focused on tag lines or catchy videos."I think they're very afraid of getting into the data," he said. "It's either overwhelming, or it will tell them something other than what they actually believe."
I like his style. I wonder what the data will tell Mr. Gould.
I'm sure he's telling his team, "Please be sure your tray table is stowed and your seatbelt is securely fastened… we’re in for an exciting ride."