Don’t Over-Target Your Campaigns (and yes, you read that right!)

Tl; dr – don’t over-target your campaigns.

What? Are you sure you read that right? It’s a bit strange hearing advice like this from Outbrain, a platform that invests so much effort and resources in the development of advanced targeting tools…

Of course, targeting is a key success factor for any marketing activity in the highly fragmented, multi-screen world we live in. Having said that, there is such a thing as “over-targeting”, and sometimes it can hurt us more than it can benefit us.

Unfortunately, it’s trendy for marketers who are new to a platform to set up tons of targeting options on their first campaigns, dramatically cutting their potential reach, slowing down the natural flow of things, and driving CPC up. In instances like these, the odds of success are usually low.

This is true in general for digital marketing, but even more so for a native discovery platform like Outbrain. One of the biggest advantages of Outbrain is its ability to expose your product or service to new potential audiences, who will in time become your next customers. This can only be done if you allow the platform to initially target a wider audience.

But don’t worry! “Open targeting” does not mean “Spray & Pray”. The Outbrain algorithm is constantly looking for the right users who will find your content relevant, based on many different signals, including their interests. This is true even when you’re not specifically opting in for “Interest Targeting”. By owning the feed of the open web, Outbrain allows marketers the opportunity to reach more potential customers than ever.

Once you’ve launched your first campaigns with a more open approach to targeting and set up your post-click engagement KPIs, you (and Outbrain) will have the wider data set necessary for more advanced targeting, such as Lookalike audiences and Interest Targeting. This is a great way to scale your activity and improve ROAS.

Here are three simple tips for how not to over-target so you can use Outbrain’s advanced targeting tools in the best way:

1/ Interest targeting:

After running some wider targeting campaigns, we encourage you to analyze them using the “By Interest” tab on the Outbrain dashboard. This will help you understand which specific interest fields work best for you. Make sure to check on both CTR and post-click KPIs (CVR, CPA, etc).

Now that you’ve identified those high-yield interest fields, you can easily create an Interest Targeting campaign to achieve better ROI. Adding Interest Targeting campaigns to your Outbrain advertising is also a great way to scale.

You can also use “By Interest” analysis to identify potential interest-generating fields for new content that will gain traction among your target audience. You can read more about Interest Targeting best practices in our Help Center.

2/ Lookalike audiences:

Make sure to set up conversion pixel tracking and to create a Converters Segment before going live. Once you have enough clicks and conversions coming from your initial activity, you will have the opportunity to build a Lookalike segment based on those Clickers’/ Converters’ segments.

As before, create a new campaign and set the lookalike to the relevant audience. Start at 5% similarity and widen it according to performance. Check out this article to learn more about Outbrain Lookalike audiences.

3/ Attribute targeting:

Age, gender, income level, and more, are all ways to target potential customers according to their attributes. This is another great advanced targeting option available for marketers at Outbrain. Use it wisely! Always A/B test any attribute combination versus open targeting campaigns to understand if they are worth these higher CPCs. And don’t be afraid to challenge your basic assumptions about who is your main audience – you may be surprised! We always recommend running a wider campaign as a benchmark to help you track the results.

Don’t get us wrong – you must have a clear KPI in mind when launching a digital campaign. And choosing your main KPI (ie. traffic, conversions…) prior to launching a campaign on Outbrain is crucial. But be careful about how many layers of targeting you apply on those first campaigns – this early stage is so important for gathering data and optimizing the Outbrain algorithm for your goals.

Our mission here at Outbrain is helping internet users to discover new content every day. Don’t deny them the opportunity to discover your content by over-targeting.

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