Online ad targeting has come a long way, but where is it going?
Getting your message to the most appropriate, relevant and intended audience is critical for the effectiveness of a campaign. Traditional online ad targeting models – behavioral, contextual and geographic – are struggling to generate maximum response from their campaigns.Why?
Audiences today are different. They are more fragmented and diverse. The emergence of social media and user-generated content has created audiences that show strong preferences for the type of content they consume, which includes the marketing and advertising they’re willing to watch. Marketers need to respond to this new audience with a new targeting, one that adapts to the consumer.
Since the start of online marketing, targeting has evolved and matured through several iterations. Everything from geographic data to a user’s browsing history can be used to home in on the right audience. However, there is something lacking in this targeting approach. Geographic, behavioral and contextual targeting only go so far because they rely on static, archived information; they only deliver half way in reaching specific audiences.
Specialized ad networks have also worked to provide a higher level of targeting. Rather than placing campaigns on specific sites, brands will go through an ad network that caters to certain target audiences – young men, moms or niche enthusiasts, for example. But with how diversified the Internet is, this is not highly accurate or targeted, especially as ad networks merge and consolidate.These older targeting models aren’t obsolete, but they are missing a crucial component – the consumer.
We are in the ”age of engage,” where marketers are constantly being told that online engagement with the consumer is essential for success. As with social media and online video, targeting needs to follow suit in taking advantage of engagement with end users to increase effectiveness.Targeting viewers during this time of audience and content fragmentation means utilizing their feedback to pique their interests. Ads that involve or reflect the consumer’s opinion in some way will ultimately be more effective because each individual receives a unique message specific to him or her. Ad messages can be designed to elicit information or preferences, then immediately react to the user’s input to deliver the most relevant ad content. Incorporating real-time interaction with user profile and geographic data takes targeting to the next level.
By putting the targeting and customization of the ad in the consumer’s hands, brands allow for a stronger level of interaction while maintaining control over the creative content and core message – similar to a real-time mash-up of an ad. Providing different options for personalization helps marketers target more effectively by catering to the preferences of each end user. Online campaigns that use this combined targeting approach have shown higher click-through rates from the user and increased conversions for the marketer.
No longer do marketers have to only target by demographic or audience segment; they can now reach consumers with a relevant message that resonates on an individual level.