Targeting soup: choosing the right method for you

With all the talk of DSPs, SSPs, DMPs and GRPs, it’s easy to forget that no matter who is buying and who is selling, success is highly dependent upon good targeting. Matching targeting tactics to your product and goals — along with clear creative — will squeeze the best performance from any channel. Here is a rundown of some of the tactics you could use to target your marketing campaigns for optimal results.

Run of network

This is a reach play to instill awareness and word of mouth. Find the most visible placements to show your branding ads to as many people as possible. Homepages and email newsletters have the most impactful placements and are seen by the most eyes. Newsletter ads will reach the most active and engaging visitors for each publisher.

Keep your creative simple and clean. You can’t expect someone to sit through a 15 second rotation on a unit smaller than a Post-it. The goal is impact, not content. They can find the content on your website. Optimize your campaign by removing day-parts and underperforming sites.

Behavioral targeting

When used correctly, behavioral targeting is an extremely powerful tactic. It’s also a way to quickly waste half your budget. behavioral targeting is straight-forward for auto and travel advertisers, but most others will need a bit more legwork. Before jumping in, focus your efforts on figuring out who your target audience is. What are the behavioral signs of someone in market for a new ISP? Unlike auto buyers who visit automotive review sites, ISP purchasers rarely do as much research. You might want to look for people who are browsing for new houses or furniture, because of a likely relationship between moving and getting set up with cable and Internet.

Companies like BlueKai and DataLogix can get you started by categorizing your site’s visitors. Begin by organizing your current customers and then buy these groups in bulk.

Contextual targeting

Contextual targeting is similar to behavioral targeting, except you know the person is already actively in the mindset of your product. However, you typically get less in the way of granularity and don’t see the users as often. Be aware of potential relevant content for your product. No one researches which toilet paper to buy, so CPG may not find this targeting form as useful. On the other hand, gamers read a lot of reviews before they decide on their next purchase.

Peer39 can do page-level segmentation that can find relevant articles on non-relevant sites. Be aware of the potential mindsets of the visitors. The worst ad I’ve ever seen was for a Manhattan apartment building targeted at me because I was reading an article about a suicide in another high-rise.


These people already know about you and your product, so welcome them back with open arms. Invite them to revisit the site, get deals on their favorite products and locate products online or at nearby stores — and keep them coming back for more. Retargeting is the area where unique creative matters the most. They already recognize your products and don’t need to be taught; they simply want to get some good deals. For example, use multiple creatives to show images of new products.

Be wary of companies that make use of your retargeting segments. It’s one thing to create look-alike models, but it’s a scam when they just sell you back your same users. Ask questions about whether these companies exclude your site visitors from their targeting practices. Silo these visitors as much as possible so that you don’t waste budget by cross-bidding.

Search retargeting

Search retargeting is a mix of search engine marketing and behavioral targeting. If you buy search, buy search retargeting. Typically bought in bulk groups, this is a great way to retarget a display ad to anyone who has searched for your most useful keywords in the past. Clearspring can take your current search engine marketing list as a starting point and expand to include look-alikes from your site visitors. You have already determined that these people are in-market, so drive them to your site to learn about the available options. You can use similar creative strategies as you do for retargeting campaigns.

You can use a wide array of targeting tactics to achieve your goals; key in on those which match your product type and always continue to test. The right balance of targeting, creative and measurement will lead to stronger results for your brand.

David Katz is director of business development at LiveIntent.

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