7 Types of Ad Targeting to Help You Hit the Spot

BY: MELISSA VOLPE Feb 13th, 2017

Ever had the desire to make a list of every single way you can target people across the multitude of digital platforms out there? Well, we’ve done just that. From your basic geo-targeting down to behavioral targeting as specific as timeshare owners, we’ve collected a list of options for you to target your future and current consumers. The targeting ways of the past are on their way out, and new, more efficient ways are here to stay.

Demographic Targeting

It’s no surprise that you can target by age and gender on nearly every platform, but did you know that you can target people who are in a long distance relationship or who have a birthday coming up? There are hundreds of demographic targeting options available for paid digital media. Whatever you can dream up, there is likely a way to target it on at least one platform.

Facebook has the most in-depth demo targeting options including – but not limited to – relationship status, job title, education level, household composition and life events. LinkedIn ads can be targeted to particular member traits such as company names, job seniority or fields of study. You can get as granular as people engaged in the last 3 months with Instagram ad targeting that now uses Facebook’s data. Interested in reaching an audience made up of parents? Google AdWords and Display Network, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are a few that have that capability. Testing different demographic targeting is easy, and it’s always a good way to narrow down the best options for your brand and message.

Geographic Targeting

Location, location, location. Targeting specific geo-locations can also be a key component of your advertising success. Let’s say you’re an ice cream shop, and you’re getting TONS of clicks on your search ads from people in California. That’s great! But…you’re an ice cream shop that only has locations in the Southeast. Not so awesome. By narrowing down your target locations, you can ensure that your brand is reaching a relevant pool of people. Most platforms give you the option to target by city, state, or zip code, and several of them allow you to input location addresses. Interested in reaching only people within a 10-mile radius of your brick and mortar stores? Lucky for you, radius targeting is often an available option. Ad campaigns can even use beacons to target users down to a single store (within a few meters). Location targeting is becoming bigger, badder and brainier everyday – from location accuracy improvements to technology updates.

Placement, Device and Platform Targeting

Speaking of location, where you advertise is equally as important as what you advertise. If you’re trying to reach an older audience, maybe Instagram isn’t the way to go. The good thing here is that you have a whole slew of other platforms and options to choose from: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Search and Display, YouTube, Yahoo, Pinterest, Pandora, Bing, podcasts, location-based advertising…and trust us, the list goes on. Where you choose to advertise on these specific platforms can also differ.

Running display ads often gives you the option to choose which websites you want or do not want to run on. You can avoid websites with questionable content or make sure to run your ads on the websites that pair well with your brand. Do you have a mobile app that you want the world to know about? You’ll probably want to promote it on mobile devices only. Is it only available in the iTunes App store? You’ll most likely want to target your ads to iPhone users only. Maybe you have a travel website that doesn’t have a mobile version quite yet – then you can opt to run ads only on desktop. If you don’t know the best plan for your brand, have no fear! Try a few different options and see what generates the best returns.

Behavior & Interest Targeting

Behavioral and interest targeting allow you to reach niche audiences that have already expressed some degree of interest in your product or content related to your product. These preferences are measured through people’s social engagements, browsing activity and even offline purchase behavior.

You can target by interests on most Google channels (e.g. Google Display Network, Google Remarketing and Google-owned YouTube). Google’s targeting allows you to serve video and display ads across relevant content. Take Joanie for example. Joanie is searching home improvement sites to gather ideas for her brand new home. By targeting your furniture ads to sites related to the affinity of “Home Décor Enthusiasts,” you know that you are reaching people like Joanie who are more likely to interact with your ads.

The true king of this type of targeting, however, is Facebook. Facebook and Instagram ads are both set up, launched and optimized through Facebook Ads Manager. Through information gathered from personal profiles, social activity and third party data, you can easily serve ads down to the nitty-grittiest of specifications right in users’ news feeds. Here at Vert, we’ve yet to target users based on the year their homes were built or the Internet browser that they use, but it’s always nice to know that we can. Photo editing services can target heavy photo uploaders. Las Vegas attractions can target people who often vacation at casinos. Whatever your heart desires, there is bound to be at least one target that is right for you.

Keyword & Topic Targeting

When you think of keyword targeting, the first thing that probably comes to mind is search ads. However, keyword targeting can also be used for display ads across the web. By choosing keywords that are specific to your product or service, you can ensure that your ads show either within particular search results or on relevant websites. Both options are great ways to reach your potential customers in a less disruptive way where the transition to your page or app is more natural. This mode of targeting is allowing Internet users to come to you based on what they are already browsing.

Colleges and universities may have a hard time pinpointing their exact target audience, but they can easily show ads to people searching for “undergraduate degree GA” or people reading “Top 10 Best Undergraduate Programs in Georgia.” Just as you can target Joanie based on her interests in home decor, you can also reach her by targeting sites related to the topic of “Homemaking and Interior Decor.” As easy as it is to target in these ways, it’s just as easy to exclude negative keywords or topics so you know that you aren’t wasting impressions on irrelevant content.

Custom Audience Targeting & Retargeting

If you already have information on your existing/prospective customers, it makes it even easier to reach the perfect audience. Facebook, Instagram, Google and Twitter all have options to create a Custom Audience. Custom Audiences find users who match your email or even phone number lists to then serve those specific users with your ads. When would this targeting be most effective? Let’s say that you’re a record label, and one of your biggest artists is releasing her 2nd album in a couple of weeks. If you have emails from everyone who purchased her first album, then you have a target group that is very likely to purchase again.

Retargeting allows you to reach individuals who have visited your site or specific pages within your site. This makes it easier to bring interested folks back to your website to complete a desired action. These audiences are typically much smaller than audiences targeted by interests or keywords for example, but you know that you are reaching a very qualified group.

Targeting Using Third Party Data

The third party data providers of the world (BlueKai, Acxiom and Experian to name a few) provide rich, in-depth detail of consumers and their behaviors. These data giants help fill in the gaps to complete full profiles of individuals and their day-to-day activities by gathering different website activity. Platforms can use data from these providers to offer more precise targeting of their own. If you own a luxury yacht company, you can use these guys to target people with a net worth higher than $10 million to reach individuals who are more likely to be interested in your product. Third party data covers the easy stuff like age and gender, but it can also provide you with purchase intent data and in-market audiences – the types of things that help you market to the right people and ultimately drive conversions.

This post is only scratching the surface. To see a more complete and detailed list of targeting options across social, search and media partners, take a look here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Volpe

Melissa Volpe

After finishing two degrees at UGA, I made my way to Atlanta to join Vert’s digital media team. Here, I regularly have the chance to work with new platforms and marketing options as the capabilities of media continuously evolve. I’m lucky enough to have a job that combines some of my favorite things: Working outside anytime it’s over 60 degrees and listening to One Direction while I check off my tasks for the day.

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