Consumer behavior as a route to effective marketing was a central focus of the largest gathering ever of an influential trade organization.

The 1,200 people who attended the 97th annual conference of the Association of National Advertisers, held here from Thursday through yesterday, heard speaker after speaker address the growing popularity of what is known as behavioral targeting, as opposed to basing pitches on consumer attitudes, opinions or perceptions.

The ability of new media to monitor what consumers are doing - like keeping track of which Web sites they visit - is fueling the interest in behavioral targeting. Several speakers also described how they were using traditional media to more precisely aim advertising at consumers based on behavior, through steps like tailored television commercials.

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