Montreal-based marketing research firm iPerceptions has launched a new tool it says will help marketers identify and target online visitors who are on e-commerce sites ready and willing to spend money.
iPerceptions’ Active Recognitions says its products are different from competitors’ because they use market research techniques to find users who have identified themselves as purchase intenders. The company, which serves approximately 700 million online surveys every year, says this helps identify missed opportunities that can result from using other methods.
Users on an iPerceptions-enabled website may be asked to fill out a quick questionnaire about their intent on the site and other basic information.
The survey hits about 1-5% of site visits. By using behavioral data (browser info about what pages users visit, when they go to the cart or check out, etc.) iPerceptions can match what visitors say they’ll do on-site with their actual behaviour. This, the company says, creates profiles of what purchase intenders actually look like.
Through a partnership with media-buying platform AdGear, those profiles are fed into programmatic algorithms that let marketers selectively message users that have either stated their purchase intent or look very much like those who have.
Inferred intent, stated intent and purchases
Many other intent-based targeting methods use either inferred intent or actual purchases to identify those likely to spend money on a website.
The most common indicator of inferred intent is whether a visitor reaches the shopping cart portion of the online shopping process (i.e. intenders are people that have made it as far as the shopping cart, but haven’t actually made a purchase).
Meanwhile, the model based on actual purchases builds profiles around shoppers that have bought something and, regardless of whether those shoppers intend to buy more or not, optimize their messaging to drive the most sales.
But Lane Cochrane, iPercetption’s vice-president of research, says those aren’t as clear an indication of intent as actually asking the consumer whether they intend to buy.
For example, critics argue that people may visit a site’s cart for all sorts of reasons – checking prices, window shopping or just clicking through by accident – which gets mixed in with all the true purchase intenders. It leads to false-positive consumers being retargeted with frequent and annoying ads (and wasted spend for the marketer).
Cochrane said that when iPerceptions compared inferred intent data to its own stated intent data from surveys, there was a big gap. Of those who visited the cart, only 44% identified themselves as purchase intenders.
And as for targeting those who’ve already forked over some cash, Cochrane said although this is a proven method for boosting sales, for some e-commerce advertisers it may be missing an opportunity – reaching out to users that came to the site intending to buy, but left dissatisfied.
Of course, stated intent-based targeting has its own challenges: consumers don’t always reliably report their own preferences or intent, so stated intent may also be generating false positives. But Cochrane argued that stated intent is a valuable, if not perfect, signal. “Most people have some idea of what they’re going to do,” he said. “The idea that you can label [audience segments] with what customers are telling you is pretty powerful.”