Do I Need to Choose Between Real-Time or Historical Behavior-Based Personalization?

By Abby Dineen

September 13, 2013


At what point should onsite targeting be driven by real time behavioral data, as opposed to a pre-defined business rule based on historical behavior? —Neil M., Digital Optimization Manager.

There’s no need to choose just one.

Frequently, we feel pressured to choose between previous behavior-based personalization and real-time personalization. But the reality is, you don’t have to choose at all. By tracking and storing both historical and current session data, you have two incredibly invaluable pieces of information about visitors’ intent, allowing you to create and drive a truly personalized experience.

When visitors first comes to the site, you know the historical elements of their intent, and can logically show them more products and recommendations based on that information and knowledge. But as they navigate through your site, they may start to show different (and more importantly, newer) intent. At this point, you can pivot your personalization focus on giving the visitors what they’re telling you they want now—not what your consumers wanted a few weeks or months ago.

Personalization doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Personalization has the ability to be an and proposition—as visitors tell you more about themselves, take that data and quickly take action to give them a better experience. If there’s a big business value difference in the intent (for example, Product B has much lower margins than Product Z), that additional information will help you understand whether or not the right approach to personalization is a combination of experiences or a single independent experience.

Ask Abby is penned by Abby Dineen, a Strategic Services Director at Monetate. When she’s not busy working with clients like DestinationXL, DrJays, Nike, Verizon Wireless, and CVS, you can find her running 12 miles to work or corralling her puppy Franklin through Monetate’s HQ.

Have a question? Send it to or tweet it using #AskAbbyD.

Abby Dineen is Client Retention and Acquisition Specialist at Monetate, where she ensures her clients are creating innovative ways to generate incremental revenue from merchandising, targeting, and testing campaigns intended to create the most relevant online customer experience. She specializes in running marathons, shoe shopping and party planning.

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