Targeting: Know Your Options and Get Results

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The word "targeting" is one of interactive's biggest buzz words. It is an incredibly powerful tool, but one that can be scary to marketers and their agencies alike. It should, and doesn't, have to be so as long as you first get clear on your objectives (i.e. know how you will measure success), then get to know the landscape of search targeting options available to you.

There are three primary methods of targeting: contextual, behavioral and search. Understanding the benefits and advantages of each will give you a much better chance of selecting the search targeting methods that will yield the greatest results.

Contextual: Typically contextual targeting offers an advertiser the ability to match your message to the context of the Web site where the ad will be seen. This type of targeting method most resembles what we think of as traditional magazine advertising. For example, if I want to sell gourmet chocolate, it makes sense to place ads in those titles whose editorial content complements my ad message. The problem here is too much waste, not enough targeting.

Behavioral: Probably the most hyped - but yet to deliver on the promise - of the targeting methods. In concept, behavioral targeting is the Holy Grail of targeting combining the advantages of reach and context with the known online behavior of the consumer. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the data analysis required and still nascent technologies that have been deployed, the industry has yet to provide marketers with the scale and predictability that search marketers should demand.

Keyword: The most effective and efficient method for delivering your message to consumers is keyword (and by extension, URL, or Web address) targeting. This is the reason direct response marketers have flocked to search marketing and have turned companies like Google and Yahoo into 21st century media powerhouses.

But marketers who understand the effectiveness of cost-per-click (CPC) search are taking it even one step further and taking advantage of the next generation keyword targeting method: cost per visitor (CPV). CPV also takes advantage of the efficiency of keyword search, but enhances the effectiveness of the campaign by delivering the advertiser's entire site and creative (typically in a new browser session) for the consumer to take action. This targeting capability in combination with the delivery of superior creative not only generates higher response rates, but also is capable of delivering significantly improved ROI as compared to CPC.

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