Seth Godin posted a typically insightul blog on targeting with respect to Firefox users. His point is that they represent a quarter of his site’s visitors, but half of its contributors and so these “power users” should be treated as priority.
This makes sense. Not everyone is the BBC, whose iPlayer underwent a lengthy gestation where it was windows internet explorer-only due to the BBC’s duty to be mass (though they didn’t rush to be inclusive).
Behavioural targeting can and should be utilised – particularly in the initial stages of a project. It could be rewarding heavy customers/users with priority/first access to a new service, using connectors to spread ideas, or – to use Tom’s example – recruiting a panel of superrespondents.
Effective targeting provides shortcuts. And shortcuts aren’t necessarily sub-optimal. In competitive markets, time and money are precious resources.
Information gathering doesn’t need to be at phorm levels. In Seth’s example, just knowing what browser a visitor is using is enough. Starting small in one community, gaining momentum and then spreading to the mass works.