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All-Encompass Targeting

The ability to measure a campaign's effectiveness has helped bring internet advertising to the forefront but it is the unique ability to more accurately pre-qualify a consumer that has become its most important attribute. Every advertiser wants to get the right message in front of the right audience, at the right time. Ultimately, those advertisers who utilize all forms of targeting together will deliver the most scalable and effective results.

Targeting enables you to message to the most relevant audience whether your objective is to build a brand or drive direct response. It is how you determine relevance that continues to be redefined as advertisers look to leverage marketing intelligence more and more. In today's age we know where the consumer is located, what media they are consuming and what media they have consumed in the past. Advertisers should look to use all available intelligence to help define relevance for their target audience regardless of campaign objective.

Marketing strategies should not have targeting help carve out a sweet spot. An over-targeted campaign is definitely not in the best interest of an advertiser. Targeting should be used to segment out media buys and equally important, be used as a performance indicator to enhance the performance of a campaign. If used correctly, segmentation will help deliver the appropriate message, drive your ROI and provide scalability.

So, what types of targeting have the greatest impact? What are the key attributes of targeting? And how can they be used to accomplish your goal?

Demographic Targeting

J. Walter Thompson originally brought demographics to advertising as a way to make commercial messages more efficient and cost-effective for advertisers. This form of audience segmentation is still helpful in online media. If you are lucky enough to know who your customers are you can manage the reach and frequency against that demographic to ensure you are delivering your message to the relevant audience.

Advertisers can determine where on the web their users are located by selecting properties with the highest composition of their demographic audience. It is equally important to spend time figuring out what psychographic behavior your demographic displays online and reach these users while they are consuming media of that nature. Testing on a wide landscape or leveraging third-party research tools are two critical tactics that can be used to successfully reach your demographic target.

Local Targeting

U.S. spending for online local advertising will grow to $3.2 billion in 2005, and then to $5.3 billion in 2010. While most of those dollars will go into classifieds and search, display can begin to steal market share if we can educate and execute. The internet provides national advertisers seeking local marketing with an accurate way to segment their display ads by country, state, city or DMA. By leveraging IP intelligence or registration data even the smaller local players that are fueling the local advertising growth will start to utilize display to cost effectively reach their local audience.

Local targeting should certainly aid those advertisers whose offering can only be made available in certain geographic areas. It should also be vital in optimizing your campaigns to regions that perform best or could even work alongside your offline marketing strategy. To take advantage of such pinpoint targeting, customizing creative and landing pages for each location can be the difference maker in delivering the return you are looking for.

Contextual Targeting

The value of context lies in knowing something about the person based on what they are viewing at that moment in time. Serving ads in the right context is in a lot of cases a primary indicator of the interests and lifestyles of a given consumer. To date, search engines have done the best job at delivering scalable return for advertisers off of contextual targeting. Search is classic 'pull' advertising where consumers are actively telling them the information they want to consume at that moment. Display ads are utilized more as 'push' advertising in that advertisers need to observe context in order to recognize a user's interests. Publishers have historically provided this value through channelized inventory broken out by content categories. In the past few years contextual targeting has even advanced down to the page-level.

The most common misconception of contextual targeting is that it only provides you the ability to put your ad before a user in the same context of your product offering. It is just as important to use the context of publishing inventory to reach your audience while viewing other content. You must leverage the psychographic behavior of your demographic audience and reach them in a context where they are most likely to be surfing. 

When choosing a contextual partner who targets text-based display ads down the page-level, make sure to leverage copy that speaks to each keyword related to that page. For graphic-based display ads, there is no need to get that granular, however, a publisher offering page-level targeting can certainly broaden your reach in a particular channel and improve performance for your campaign.

Behavioral Targeting

Is the Internet truly a one-to-one marketing medium? Perhaps not, but behavioral targeting brings us closer to that reality than any other format offered. While behavioral targeting is nothing new to this industry, it was the impact of failed business models which left it dormant when the internet bubble burst. Its recent resurgence has helped bring targeting full circle, as we target against all historical intelligence stored on the user.

Relevance can be defined by delivering messages out of context while targeting against users behavior displayed on a particular site, a variety of sites, or even their own site. Regardless of where the behavior is displayed marketers can access historical data to deliver a relevant creative to particular users profiles. Depending on your product offering or campaign objective, you should be able to utilize strategic profiles and speak to that audience segment to drive results.

You must look to a partner that can access tens of millions of unique audience members across billions of page views every month. Behavioral profiling will fall flat otherwise.  For those publishers, these profiles are an Inventory Management dream, while for marketers it's an advertising dream become reality. Looking to introduce your brand to users in the market for you product? Thirsting for a way to manage your network buy's more effectively? Care to reach users who have been to your site to shop around yet haven't purchased? We have only begun to scratch the surface on how to utilize such data.

All-Encompass Targeting

Marketers should look to utilize all forms of targeting whether content-based or user-centric methods to pre-qualify their audience and optimize their campaigns. In doing so, relevance can be defined for a given target audience at any given time, anywhere on the web.

When users see relevant ads it not only enhances their user experience, but also increases the likelihood of sales. As this industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, it is all forms of targeting working together that will form our guiding light. They will help deliver relevance to the consumer in many different ways, making it a win-win for all.

A few take-aways on what to look for when creating a targeting strategy:

  • Seek a partner who will allow you to leverage all types of targeting together

  •  Look for innovative technologies, such as dynamic contextual targeting

  • Access those publishers with extensive reach and a wealth of content categories

Adam Glantz is the Director of Product Development at Vendare Media in El Segundo, Calif.

Adam's extensive experience at several ad agencies, integrated online marketing companies and ad networks has provided him with unique exposure to the many fragmented sectors within the digital media landscape. Through articles published in industry...

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