What is Targeting in Digital Marketing?
A target is a goal or something you want to hit with accuracy and precision. In digital marketing, the target is the audience. Not a bland, faceless, anonymous audience but the right audiences for your products or services.
You want to reach the audience that is most likely to buy from you when they are using digital media. You target your preferred audience on their mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. You position your carefully crafted target ads to attract their attention when they are searching for information or chatting with friends and family. You don’t know their names, but you know what makes them most likely to click through on your ad.
You define your ad targeting audience by creating a persona of who is most likely to be your customer. The persona builds up from demographic, geographic, and psychographic information. The persona representing your ideal audience member draws on real data collected and inferred from hundreds of thousands of people browsing, playing, and buying on the world wide web.
People’s digital footprint is rich in data – the places they visit (real and digital), the profiles they complete, the conversations they have, and the products and services they buy. Targeting ads do not focus on one individual but groups of individuals sharing the same characteristics or persona. Decades of learning how to collect and analyze data about people mean creating a specific target audience is straightforward. As is finding and targeting advertising to them. That is the point of ads targeting digital marketing – finding the people who are most likely to buy what you are selling.
What are Targeted Ads?
What are Targeted Ads?
A targeted ad is content that the owner pays to display to a specified type of person when they are online. There are two components to a targeted Ad – the audience and the content. The audience is the target and focus of the Ad campaign. Targeted advertising involves traits with a relevant value to the product or service promoted through the campaign. After defining the audience, the marketer creates the content most likely to appeal to the target audience using a mixture of images, text, and psychology. The shape of the material suits the digital landscape displaying the targeting ad to the audience. Targeting involves both broad and narrow groupings of people by their defining traits:
• Geographical – for some businesses, the location of the individual is the essential feature. These businesses use
targeted ads to persuade people to visit their premises. Alternatively, the Ad may be a location-specific promotion.
• Contextual – the target audience is defined by their behavior, and this covers a broad range of activities.
Behavioral targeting is rising in popularity because how a person behaves gives a robust indicator of their
• Retargeting – digital analytics allows a warm audience to be identified and found because of
the wealth of information about what people do and buy online. You can target people who buy products like
yours, regardless of where they shopped.
Tightly focused targeted adverts aim to maximize conversions and interest from a clearly defined subgroup of people. The platform hosting the Ad identifies targets from their activity online.
Why use Targeted Ads? Why Is Ad Targeting So Important?
Why use Targeted Ads? Why Is Ad Targeting So Important?
Picture this – you are selling door to door, and you have 200 widgets to sell today. Would you prefer to knock on 100,000 doors with no idea of who lives there, or 500 doors with known widget buyers? Targeted Ads increase the probability of a successful selling outcome. They stack the odds in your favor because the person seeing your Ad is a warm lead. Targeted ads and digital marketing change the way businesses reach potential customers. For example, consider a restaurant – you can put a man with a billboard in the street shouting about your great food. If it is a busy street and it is lunchtime, you may increase your customers, but it’s not guaranteed. What happens when someone searches for a restaurant on their mobile phone? This person is looking for somewhere to eat near them. They have a clear intent to buy. You get a better rate of customers from advertising your presence to someone who is looking to eat.
It’s that simple. Targeted adverts are important because they get to people who give clear signals that they intend to buy. Plus, they are very affordable compared with other, less targeted marketing approaches.
Most people use targeted ads because it makes business sense to market to potential customers rather than people who have no interest and are never going to buy from you.
How Does Targeting Ads Work? How is the Data Collected?
How Does Targeting Ads Work? How is the Data Collected?
Targeted ads work because we finally have access to big data sets, and we study human psychology. Salespeople hone their approach to selling in person by becoming sensitive to how people respond to them. Marketing and selling is the way businesses thrive, so the psychology of the buyer is big business in the past and today.
The first factor at play is the human attention budget – we are all cognitive misers. We have a limited amount of energy for paying attention to our surroundings. We are paralyzed with information overload if we see everything in our vicinity or on our screens. Our brains handle this by ignoring everything that isn’t important to us. We have a priority list of things that are important and need attention. This priority includes objects of desire and threat. You can walk past a shop window and pay no attention. But if you want a pair of red boots and the shop window is displaying a pair, you will spot them because your brain will tag the boots as desirable. We are used to being aware of ads on the screen; they’ve become part of the scenery. Most of the time, you don’t notice them unless they get in your face and stop you from doing what you want (threat) or have something you want (desire). Targeted ads put objects of desire onto your screen, and they work because your brain has that item on its list of things to notice.
Research shows that people are twice as likely to click on an ad targeting their behavior patterns. Psychographics have more influence than demographics when you have access to this information about people. Psychographics covers your beliefs, opinions, values, and motivations. If you care for the planet, you are more likely to respond to ads targeting you with an eco-friendly message. It’s more nuanced than that, but people react to ads that appeal to their self-image. People’s beliefs also influence what they buy and how much they are going to spend.
Every time you go online, you leave a trail of rich data. Anyone who can collect it – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and individual websites does so because it is valuable. It’s all automatically logged and sorted depending on who is collecting it and for what purpose. Some of the information is anonymous, and some tags your online persona – a record of where you’ve gone, what you searched for, the games you play, the people you interact with, and the products you buy. The information collected can group people into target audiences based on a staggering list of characteristics and traits. It can then show ads to those people when they are going about their digital lives.
Types of Targeted Ads
Types of Targeted Ads
Targeting ads focus on the audience segment most likely to slide down the buying funnel and buy the advertised products or services. The types of targeted adverts revolve around the audience and their interactions with the internet. The accuracy and quality of the targeting criteria depend on a mixture of audience research (analytics and some benchmarking with focus groups) and the web platform offering the ad space.
Behavioral targeting focuses on what the audience does, and it covers collecting information about:
Behavioral targeting ads can be:
Behavioral targeting ads follow an identified target customer type across the internet and show them relevant ads on unrelated websites. Or when they are spending time on social media. For advertisers using behavioral targeting increases customer engagement and sales. A person’s online behavior signals their future intent and where they are in the buying funnel. Sophisticated behavioral targeting ads pitch to customers who are on the point of making a purchase. Consumers get a more personalized experience – they get ads that might tempt them into buying, but only because they see products and services that suit their needs. Intelligent targeting also means that the ads are relevant in terms of timing as well as the content. Increasing sales is the pay-off for the advertiser, but the consumer also benefits. Behavioral ads typically generate more conversions and better return on the marketing budget than generic ones. Behavioral ads are useful for:
• Cross-selling – some products fit naturally together.
If you buy a surfing board, you might also buy
• Up-selling – when someone buys a product, you
offer related accessories like polish and
weatherproofing for shoes.
• Email campaigns – link to action like filling up your
shopping cart and abandoning it, a discount code
may change your mind.
• Direct selling – when someone spends a couple of
hours looking at curtains, they probably want to
buy a set.
Content or contextual targeting places ads that are relevant to the content and the user by linking the two together. Someone who is reading a blog about horse riding or painting is probably interested in those activities. Content ads targeting those interests are more appealing than ads for a product like wine, for example. The context of the advert and the surrounding content with a consistent message feels more natural to the viewer. You can use a mixture of behavior and content to produce a combined targeted ad. The content targeted ad triggers with keywords and the site type. The owner of the site benefits from a share of the advertising revenue and doesn’t offend their users by showing inappropriate or irrelevant ads.
Search engine results pages provide valuable advertising space. The ads are targeting keywords or phrases that signal the user intent. The targeting ad the user sees is the result of a competitive bidding process.
Search engine targeting ads work for the advertiser because:
• They match the searchers’ intent – the ad targeting relates to the product or service they are searching for or
is relevant to the information they seek.
• High ranking search engine ads tend to be high ranking in the organic search as well; these are likely to be the
websites that best meet the user’s needs.
• New websites and products take time to rank highly, so targeted ads are a quick way to gain website traffic and
Search engine targeting ads work for the search engine user because they provide potential matches to their search intent. Although the advertiser is paying to have the ad on the page in front of their target audience, they still need to rank highly and be relevant. That means that these ads suit the searcher. In many ways, search engine targeting ads is a win for the advertiser and the search engine user. They are definitely a win for the search engine provider because each ad pays its way.
A Search engine ad campaign involves competitive bidding against other potential ads and a selection of the appropriate keywords and phrases for placement. As well as positively selecting keywords, it is advisable to note the ‘negative’ keywords when you don’t want your targeted ads to appear on the SERP.
All search engines put ads on the SERP – above, below and to the side of the organic search results. Paid ads are always clear to the searcher, but as the ads are relevant to the searcher, the distinction lines between getting the information you need and ‘seeing an ad’ are becoming blurred in most searchers’ minds. This perception benefits the advertiser because these targeting ads are acceptable to most search engine users and do not cause annoyance.
Social media is huge, not just Facebook but plenty of other networking sites as well. There are broad platforms that welcome the world and small niche platforms that serve a specific purpose for a defined group of people.
All of them offer paid advertising space as a way of increasing profitability because most of them are free services to users. Selecting your target audience on a social media platform is straightforward because users volunteer a lot of demographic information, and through their use, they demonstrate behaviors and interests.
Advertising on all social media platforms requires a space race style budget and is not the most effective use of your marketing budget. Some platforms are better at attracting your audience and suit your type of content more than others. Concentrating your efforts on marketing on one social media platform will give better results than trying to target them all. They have different audiences and need different, targeted ad content.
Think about how you interact with the digital world – continually moving between devices. You are the same person on each device and a member of overlapping target audiences. Cross-device targeting tracks the same audience across all devices and serves up the ad in the right format for the device.
There are two methods:
Using cross-device targeting ads means focusing on providing a better customer experience to promote your brand identity and story regardless of how they access your business through your marketing.
Television advertising lags the targeting techniques available to data-rich digital platforms, but that is changing. There are two approaches:
Television advertising with a targeted audience is a better marketing tool than the old system of buying space between the programs and hoping for the best.
Some businesses rely on people visiting their premises for their trade. That can be people living in the area, working, or passing. Geotargeting primarily works on locating people by their position on the map.
Geotargeting uses include:
Geotargeting and mobile technology open some interesting ad campaigns as you can target everyone in a sports stadium, for example, and use seasonal advertising in a specified area. Geotargeting makes the internet local and stops advertisers from wasting their marketing budget on people who are half a globe away.
When cold calling on the telephone was one of the few marketing techniques available, countless mealtimes were interrupted by a pushy salesman. Why? Because they knew that people were likely to be at home around mealtimes and although they would be annoyed you had them at the end of a telephone line.
The timing of your ad matters if you want to attract an audience and convert it. Like commuting traffic, there are peak times for any target audience. By controlling the timing of your ad (day, hour), you maximize your effectiveness.
You can add time targeting to any of your ad campaigns and combine it with another targeting technique like geotargeting – for example, only run your ads when your restaurant is open.
Retargeting is the process of going back to people who have already interacted with you. The interaction may be slight, perhaps they clicked through on an ad but didn’t actually buy. Then some got as far as putting an item in a shopping cart but didn’t follow through. Then you have known customers o add to your retargeting ad list
These people are already well down the buying funnel, and it only takes a smaller nudge to convert this target than starting from cold with a new customer who has no previous experience with you.
You can retarget an audience with a remarketing list for search ads (RSLA) because the search engines (like Google) can give you a piece of code (known as a tag) for your website. This code tags what people do on your website and compiles a potential retargeting audience.
You can choose to outbid your competitors to place your ads in front of people who are on your RLSA. It makes sense to limit this to website visitors in the past month. If they are in the market to buy what you are offering, it only takes a little nudge from an ad to be successful in gaining the sale. Alternatively, you could expand your keyword list to target people who have bought from you in the past. Typically you narrow down the keywords to avoid displaying to people with minimal intent. A retargeted audience is more likely to be open to your message – their intent rating is above the general audience for these keywords for your business.
Privacy and Security Regarding Targeted Ads
Privacy and Security Regarding Targeted Ads
The amount of data collected on people engaging with the internet makes possible targeting on an unprecedented scale for marketing purposes – you get a glimpse inside people’s heads. The dark side of this targeting is the unease many people feel about potential violations of their privacy.
Responsible ad agencies take time and care to ensure that the target audience is not subject to breaches of their privacy and security through targeted ad campaigns. Brands and ad agencies can reassure potential customers and targeted audiences by:
• Transparency – being upfront about information collect and what you are going to use that data for – marketing.
• Avoiding cross-contamination – it’s possible to link third-party tools to search engine tagging pixels but
• Encrypted storage of user data – if you collect the information you owe it to your customers to keep it secure
• Responsible ad design – avoiding suspect links, fake news, and the potential for malicious practice with tracking
Responsible ad agencies act ahead of legislation and treat user’s digital data collected for marketing purposes with the same level of confidentiality and security with the standard provided by bankers, lawyers, and doctors.
Targeted ads that result in people feeling inappropriately targeted by sensitive information (disability or sexual orientation, for example) or creepily stalked by underhand privacy violations are not good business. The idea behind targeted ad marketing is to engage people with your brand and not offend and discourage them. Targeted ads are useful but need to fall on the right side of acceptable practice.
Targeted ad campaigns aim to inform, educate, and suggest relevant products and services benefiting the customer and building up a mutually beneficial relationship. Our best practice involves being trustworthy, honest, and sensitive to user’s privacy concerns.
Yes. Paid search is the same as Search Engine Marketing or Pay Per Click advertising. Businesses pay for the opportunity to place Ads in front of searchers. These indicate an interest in their products or services by the search terms used.
SEM is Search Engine Marketing from search engine providers like Google and Bing. The business ad appears on the SERP page generated if successful in the ad auction.
PPC or pay per click is the way you pay for your search engine marketing. When someone clicks on your ad, you get charged a calculated fee.
Paid Search Marketing is another term that describes the practice of paying for ads to appear on SERPs.
Paid social media advertising displays ads on pages where people are interacting with friends and family. Search Engine Marketing puts Ads in front of people who are looking for what the Ad is describing. The person on a social media site is in a different part of the buying funnel to the active searcher using a search engine to find a product or service.
SEM is the process of paying for ads to appear when a search engine operates. The ads are tagged to the keys words and phrases chosen by the potential customer. If the business ad is relevant, it goes into the auction for a position on the SERP shown to the customer.
Universal App campaigns are an automated ad campaign whose goal is to get downloads for your app. The ads appear all over Google – Search, Display, Ad Mob, YouTube, Discover on Google, and Google Play, as well as other locations.
You provide Google Ads with a budget, starting text, starting bid. Google Ads create optimized ads using this material and material available on your app listing. It's a Smart Campaign type that learns from successful conversions to repeat the winning formula.