How Did This Ad Get in My Browser? A Theoretical Examination of Online Targeting and Segmentation Practices as They Relate to Media Planning on the Internet

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Using technological advances, the world of Internet targeting, segmenting, and media planning evolved, giving new meaning to old terms such as behavioral targeting and contextual marketing (Fadner 2004c). Behavioral targeting has nothing to do with direct mail as it used to (De Wulf, Hoekstra, and Commandeur 2000) and contextual marketing happens in the "marketspace" as opposed to the marketplace where physical buyers and sellers meet (Rayport and Sviokla 1996). Online targeting tactics can be used individually or in combination to place ads on the pages viewed by a brand's target segments. The factors determining the choice of tactics are part of the brand's media planning strategy and are detailed later in this paper. Using established theoretical frameworks and concepts from advertising, media planning, and relationship marketing, this paper takes a close look at Internet targeting and segmenting tactics as they help in selecting Internet vehicles. The author also outlines the major players involved in an online media buy and develops a list of factors that determine an Internet ad to appear in a user's browser. By providing theory-driven explanations to the online media planning market developments, the paper proposes a research agenda for studying Internet media planning and buying practices and the effectiveness of targeting and segmenting on the Internet.


At the time of publication Anca Micu was affiliated with University of Missouri, Columbia.