With ever-increasing competition, businesses from all verticals are stumbling upon obstacles on their way while they try to reach potential clients. Today it is not enough to simply create a useful product or service - one should also market it correctly. You can serve ads to thousands of people every day, hoping to get the prospective buyers' attention. However, the results can be more impressive if you choose to launch target based campaigns as a part of your online advertising strategy.

The fundamental strategy of effective digital marketing requires reaching the right people, at the right time, and in the right place. It may sound complicated from the beginning, but in fact, things get quite easy once you start using one of the most effective approaches - targeted digital advertising. In this post, we'll explore how online targeting works and what are the six best practices to include in your programmatic ads strategy.

What does targeted advertising mean?

Targeted advertising includes lots of approaches applicable to both online and offline channels across many verticals. The general strategy, however, is similar for all of them - the main point is to define your prospective clients and divide them into audience segments according to specific characteristics. These segments will then be targeted with personalized messages depending on their intents, online behavior, or your campaign's goals. Let's take a look at how one brand can target users from two entirely different segments:

Imagine a business focused on producing a wide range of headphones. Their clients may have different needs and motivations while searching for a specific product, so each of these clients should be communicated with a different message. Let's say, and the first segment includes active young people who prefer to listen to music while doing a workout or commuting from one place to another. Their primary interests, in this case, are portability, convenience, and durability, so both the online ad and the product should reflect their demands.

The second segment consists of huge music fans or music professionals who appreciate the quality of sound and are willing to pay more for it. In this instance, they are likely to take a look at more substantial, more sophisticated speakers, which could be less convenient and more expensive. For successful targeting, ads delivered to these prospects should emphasize that the products are worthy investments. The message should convince the user that they get the quality they were looking for.

Moreover, these segments can be further divided into even more precise groups of clients; then, they can be targeted with even more personalized messages. So, in order to open up the full potential of targeted advertising, you need to explore how digital audience targeting actually works.

How targeted advertising works online

As we have already mentioned, there are lots of different approaches to personalization, and you can apply various mechanisms to make them work for you. There are, however, two general types of targeted online advertising - one of them focused on users and the other on the context where an ad is placed.

1. If the targeting strategy is focused on visitors, it is called behaviorally targeted advertising. This means that users will receive messages according to the personal data about them, which is usually collected by the advertiser. At first, the information is gathered from web sources (for example - third-party cookies) and stored within data-management platforms. It is then analyzed, and the potential clients are getting divided into segments based on their background and interests. Finally, a specific creative is designed for each of them in order to meet their needs and reach the campaign goals. This way, when the user enters a website, they will encounter ads based on their online data and would receive personalized messages from the advertiser.

Behavior targeting process

2. Another form of targeting is called contextual targeting. For this type of advertising, the target audience is not such a decisive factor. The message and the creative can have nothing to do with the user, and the environment defines where an ad is placed. The publisher's website should be deeply analyzed by crawlers - every URL is scanned, and ad placements are categorized in accordance with website content. Ad server matches the InformationInformation with relevant topics, keywords, and categories so that the appropriate ad could be placed. This way, the user gets a holistic experience without the need for extra data collection.

Best practices for targeted online advertising

As we can see, there is nothing complicated about launching targeted ads campaigns, even for a novice. Usually, all you have to do is sign up on the demand-side platform, create a campaign, and set up preferred targeting options. Simply including personalization into your marketing strategy will increase your campaigns' performance and overall profits. However, you can achieve even more if you also apply some of the best-targeted advertising practices:

Pixel Your Campaigns

The most fundamental thing for any type of targeting is data. Of course, you can always purchase collected sets of data from various vendors, but in the long-term perspective, it is much better to get your insights. This will help you understand your existing audience and predict potential advertising outcomes. A convenient and straightforward way to do this is to pixel your campaigns. Pixels are small and invisible pieces of code that can be inserted into your webpages and campaigns in order to gather information about your target audience. They allow you to place and read cookies that include valuable InformationInformation about your visitors, such as their device, IP address, demographics, behavior, etc. This data can then be used on the DSP to segment your audience and launch precisely targeted campaigns. Once you have gathered all the necessary InformationInformation, there's no need to try and guess who will see your ads - with SmartyAds DSP; they will match the exact customers they can resonate with.

Use demographic targeting

A straightforward yet extremely effective type of online targeting, demographic targeting remains to be one of the most widely-used practices. It usually includes basic facts about the user, such as age, gender, annual income, and many others. These characteristics can be especially useful for specific niche businesses oriented at certain demographic groups. For example, your target audience persona could be a middle-aged male from the upper class or a senior interested in luxury goods. All these personas can be categorized on your DSP and addressed with a precise message they need to see.

Embrace geo-targeting

Sometimes it is not enough to just choose a couple of characteristics for reaching the right people. You can set lots of filters and even find interested customers, but all these efforts would be wasted if your business is only serving on the other side of the globe.

Luckily, with geo-targeting, you can easily avoid such confusion by limiting a precise geographical location of your prospects. On SmartyAds DSP, simply choose a country, city, or region you need within the first graph of 'Targeting' settings.

Targeting Advertising by GEO

And if you need a laser-like precision for your strategy, you can always turn to GPS targeting. For example, if your business is providing local services in certain parts of the city, there is no need to target an entire municipality. What you need to do is to choose specific places where the users are most likely to convert and send them the right message. This way, you can enjoy hyper-local targeting and reach people from a certain street or district.

On SmartyAds DSP, choose the accurate GPS coordinates of the place and then pick a radius around that point. It starts at 1 km and can cover any area of your choice. You can also filter by zip code or select multiple areas to diversify your choices.

GPS Targeting

The target according to selected channels

Undoubtedly, for most campaigns in targeted digital advertising, it is vital to reach your customers at the right place. But what about the online part of the customer journey? After all, the Internet is the first place where customers encounter your message so that the right channel can play even a greater role than an actual physical location. This is especially important for building an omnichannel marketing strategy where your ads depend entirely on the channel you use. You can find that some channels are more suitable for specific business goals and creatives, so picking the right one is essential when it comes to targeting. Apart from social media, some of the most popular channels include:

Desktop. Banner ad formats, video, native and rich media - all of these can work well for a universal desktop campaign. You can reach people at home or work, at almost any corner of the world. It is also the most versatile channel, as it includes the most significant number of sizes and formats so far.

Mobile & in-app. Smartphone usage is steadily increasing, and so does the number of opportunities for advertisers. Popular mobile ad formats include in-app, rewarded video, banner, native, and even playable ads, which give advertisers lots of space for imagination and creativity.

Connected TV. Another fast-growing channel with plenty of benefits and opportunities for advertisers is CTV. On CTV, advertisers can serve a wide range of high-quality ad formats with high viewability and premium audiences. It is also an excellent choice for advertisers interested in other types of online targeting since devices collect additional user data to enable certain features. This, in turn, can facilitate a more in-depth audience segmentation.

Don't forget about audience segmentation.

Once you've geared your channels in action, it is time to observe the results carefully. If your campaign is performing well, it will surely make sense to remember your best-performing settings for future campaigns and retargeting strategies. Such categorization is also useful for brands with broad audiences that require detailed segmentation by interests, goals, and opinions. Customers of each segment can then be addressed with personalized messages regarding the exact product or service they'll be most interested in.

This is possible thanks to the 'Audiences' feature within our DSP. An audience is a group of users that can be collected either by your previous campaign or from website pages via pixels, conversions, or clicks. Once you've created and saved your audiences, you can then use them to reach your next marketing goals without spending tons of time to set up new campaigns.

Audience segmentation on SmartyAds DSP

Make the most out of retargeting.

What can be better than reaching new prospects? That's right - building a solid relationship with the returning ones! Some of your prospects may still be researching, others - waiting for new offers. There might be numerous reasons why an interested user wouldn't convert immediately, but you can still win them back, and the key to achieving this lies in retargeting

The possibilities are endless. You can bring back those who visited your site but haven't taken any action or abandoned the shopping cart. You can also remind your previous customers about your brand by offering them discounts or other benefits for their loyalty. The mechanism is simple: choose "Retargeting'' on the top of the "Targeting" settings, pick one of your saved audiences, and enjoy the reunion with your previous clients.

To sum up

Targeted online advertising offers advertisers a wide range of practices and approaches applicable to most business goals and verticals. Even the most narrow-niche brands can reach their potential clients by tailoring their messages specifically to selected audience groups. To explore the full potential of targeted advertising, one can employ some of the best targeting practices, such as pixeling their online assets or using demographic and geographical targeting. It is also useful to segment your audiences carefully and save the best-performing settings, as this can work miracles for future campaigns. Finally, don't forget about retargeting to leverage both new and old connections effectively.

Get in touch with your clients at the right time and place with SmartyAds DSP!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
July 2020