Ad targeting is a powerful tool used in digital marketing to tailor ad campaigns to specific audiences. It enables both marketers and publishers to deliver adverts more effectively and efficiently by narrowing ad placements down and displaying ads to people who are most likely to show an interest.
Also known as audience targeting, ad targeting works through the analysis of customer data, such as demographics, interests, purchasing behavior, and geographical location.
What is ad targeting?
Ad targeting involves selecting the appropriate ad for different types of audiences based on criteria such as demographics, interests, and other factors.
Audience targeting helps advertisers to hone in on the audiences they want to reach and craft a personalized ad experience that resonates better with the intended audience. Analyzing audience data and applying audience targeting maximizes the reach of ad campaigns, while also increasing successful conversions by creating content that appeals to the persona of the people they want to target.
In other words, ad targeting makes ads more timely, relevant, and cost effective. Ad targeting provides businesses with a competitive edge by:
- reaching specific customer segments
- increasing conversions by providing personalized content
- promoting brand loyalty and positive sentiments
- boosting customer retention
- allowing brands to allocate their ad budget more efficiently
- save money by limiting the number of views from disengaged people
- enabling the opportunity for a higher ROI on ad spend
As well as being profitable for brands, ad targeting is also good for customers and publishers. It helps customers to feel more valued as it provides them with ads related to their interests. This increases positive feelings towards publishers too.
How does ad targeting work?
Ad targeting works by using data from user profiles and behavior to target potential customers who meet a certain criteria. The technology can be used to build ad campaigns around demographics and characteristics such as age, gender, location, education level, and buyer preferences.
The first stage of the ad targeting process involves gathering data about users’ web browsing activities, including website visits, click throughs, and ad views. Next, people are segmented into different groups based on various data points and criteria. For instance, a segment could be created for females who regularly purchase beauty products, aged between 21 and 30, who regularly visit health websites.
The segmented data is then used by ad servers to display relevant advertisements that match a user’s demographics, psychographics, behavior, and interests. Advertisers may also optimize ad targeting by analyzing feedback from customers. Using metrics such as ad click-through rate, they are able to fine-tune their ad strategy and engage their target audience even more.
Ad targeting strategies
When it comes to ad targeting or audience targeting, there are five main categories – demographic, geotargeting, retargeting, psychographic, and contextual.
- Demographic targeting – helps companies to focus on users based on gender, age, and other standard demographic factors. This technique allows for tailor-made ad campaigns that are specifically targeted towards the group of people most likely to be interested in that particular ad’s message or offering.
- Geotargeting – offers personalized ad experiences depending on geographical location. Utilizing geolocation technology, advertisements can be pushed to a user’s device if it falls within the targeted geographic radius set by the advertiser. By understanding which location factors are important for their product or service, companies can significantly narrow down where to push ads and increase the relevancy for the consumer. Geotargeting also offers an opportunity for more localized campaigns that can later be expanded based on performance metrics and analytics. This form of marketing has become increasingly important as more people turn to mobile devices instead of static locations such as televisions or computers.
- Retargeting – places advertisements in front of people who have already interacted with the brand previously. Retargeting using tools such as web browser cookies to collect data based on a user’s behavior. The information is then used to serve personalized ads on other websites and platforms in an effort to drive the user back to the original site they visited. It’s an effective way for businesses to capitalize on previously interested visitors who may have gotten distracted or moved away before taking action. Businesses can even get creative with retargeting, such as displaying different ads depending on where the prospect is in the purchase funnel. For instance, retailers can display ads that offer discounts and rewards to a user who put something in the basket or cart, but didn’t go through with the purchase.
- Psychographic targeting – focuses on customer’s individual beliefs and values when connecting with them through ads. Understanding the motivations and values of target customers, allows businesses to craft more effective messages which are tailored to the individuals within that group. Through the use of psychographic segmentation, companies evaluate factors such as lifestyle, values, abilities and attitudes when creating impactful ad campaigns.
- Contextual ad targeting – creates relevant ad experiences by targeting ads to people who regularly view or interact with a particular type of content or website. Contextual targeting enables advertisers to target relevant audiences without the use of third-party cookies, in accordance with increasingly strict data privacy regulations that prohibit collection of user data.
Ad targeting on Google
Google ad targeting is the process of delivering relevant ads to Google users based on their online activity.
The technology works by using data associated with an individual’s Google account, such as the websites they visit, their search queries, and content they have interacted with in the past. With Google ad targeting, advertisers can target specific audiences more effectively and get more out of their campaigns. Google uses a variety of signals to boost relevancy for all ad formats, including demographic signals (e.g. gender, age) and geographical signals (e.g. location).
To use ad targeting on Google there are five simple steps:
- Create a Google Ads account and log in.
- Create the specific campaign you would like to advertise, specifying the location areas and language of targeted audiences you are aiming for.
- Decide which bidding strategy is best for your goal.
- Enter the keywords associated with your ad that will trigger it in certain searches.
- Review your settings for accuracy and launch the campaign.
Ad targeting on Facebook
Facebook ads can be a powerful tool to reach potential customers and promote your business, but only if you know how to properly target your audience.
To begin ad targeting on Facebook, understand the various criteria for narrowing down your audience – like age, gender, location, language, interests and behaviors. You can further refine the ads by creating custom audiences from existing customer data.
Once you have chosen all of your targeting criteria, you’ll need to set a budget for the ad campaign based on reaching as many people as possible in your target segments.
Facebook also offers options for optimizing performance such as boosting posts or using automatic campaigns in order to get the most out of your ad spend. You can also track and monitor your ad performance with metrics such as click-through rate in order to see where you can make adjustments.
Ad targeting on Outbrain
Outbrain is a tool for targeting audiences with content recommendations that are relevant to them. Advertisers can leverage Outbrain’s powerful algorithms to reach their target customers in a more efficient and cost effective way. Beyond the standard demographic and location targeting, and targeting for specific browser types, devices and operating systems, Outbrain’s offers advanced interest-based, lookalike, and contextual targeting options. This significantly increases the potential reach of advertisers, while ensuring accurate, granular targeting at the same time.
Ad targeting on Outbrain is broken up into several categories, including standard targeting, placement targeting, and advanced options such as contextual targeting, IAB category targeting, and advanced placement targeting.
You can apply standard ad targeting when setting up an Outbrain campaign in the following ways:
- Geotargeting – Target ads by country, region, zip code, or DMA. You can also exclude certain locations. You can upload as many as 7,000 postal codes in each campaign.
- Audience segmentation – You can break up your audience into segments that you’d like to reach or exclude. You can then target or retarget the different segments with your ad campaigns.
- Interest targeting – Target or exclude people based on interests. Outbrain has a large database of people that engage with various types of content.
- Attribute targeting – An advanced targeting technique that uses third-party data to target people based on their individual attributes.
- Contextual targeting – You can opt to display ads to people as they view relevant content. For instance, you can choose to show ads for a family holiday on a parenting blog or car accessories on a motoring website.