When Is Audience Targeting Worth It?

Written on
Nov 29, 2011 
John Dietz  |

ADOTAS – The field of audience targeting – also known as audience analytics – has long proven attractive and effective to online marketers. Honing campaigns to focus on specific audiences is not only logical, but it promises to provide a better way to generate return on ad dollars for the goals an advertiser is trying to achieve.

Because advertisers pay a premium for audience targeting, it’s important to examine the return on investment as it relates to all aspects of a campaign. As online marketers are beginning to understand, it’s rare that any one dimension of a media campaign is responsible for success. Furthermore, they’re finding out that each dimension delivers different results depending on a number of variables.

Whether you’re trying to determine the best creative, the highest performing website, the right audience demographic or all of the above, the ability to simultaneously analyze these variables is key to determining the optimal mix of online ad campaign attributes.

Taking a holistic look at the ways audience analytics combines with other online marketing factors is essential to knowing how, when and where to invest in audience targeting. This is no easy task. A brand may be looking at targeting 10 different audience segments across multiple ad networks, making it difficult to determine the right combinations of creative, placement, timing and other campaign considerations that work best.

However, here are a few essential steps an online marketer can take to make sure they’re making the right choices when it comes to audience targeting.

1) Verify the Desired Audience: One of the first steps to figuring out the impact of audience targeting is to verify that the ad network or publisher partner has delivered the audience they promised. One way is to combine campaign data with detailed demographic data from one or more of the leading providers, such as Nielsen or TARGUSinfo. By linking demographic data to your campaign, you can quickly confirm whether or not you actually reached your target demographic.

2) Align Data with Campaign Goals: After verifying that campaigns are reaching the right audience, brands need to align the same demographic data to campaign goals, such as a purchase on a site, a click, or however a brand measures success for a particular campaign. Once the campaign goals can be compared with conversion data, a brand has a more complete view of its audience and how well those segments are performing.

3) Tap Attribution to Measure Audience Targeting Performance: With audience verification in place and aligned with specific key performance indicators, brands are now able to understand the value and ROI of audience targeting. Using attribution analysis, brands can analyze the lift they’re getting from a particular audience target and the associated costs to determine ROI. Audience analytics is becoming increasingly complex in the cross-channel online advertising world. However, with proper planning and the right tools, brands can evaluate how audience targeting positively impacts their campaigns.

John Dietz co-founded Adometry, where he is Vice President of Product Management, in 2008. Prior to Adometry, he was responsible for technical direction and implementation of Disney advertising technologies for the Walt Disney Internet Group. Before joining Disney, John was the VP of Engineering for educational software startup Stone Tablet Education, where he was responsible for all technical implementation and operations. John has also held leadership positions at other technology companies, including Primus Knowledge Solutions, Sierra On-Line, and Click2Learn.com. John has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Seattle University and a master's degree from the University of Washington in Educational Technology, and he has pending patents for advertising forecasting and delivery algorithms.

Reader Comments.

Great piece on audience targeting. Thanks for sharing. Audience targeting is a powerful tool, but without the proper process, quality data and the application of optimization techniques, its not going to drive the return marketers are expecting.

Have you read this recent blog we put out on Digiday about data quality? http://www.digiday.com/stories/how-data-quality-drives-roi/

Posted by Alexandra Theriault | 7:34 am on November 30, 2011.

Hi John – You’re right – audience targeting is powerful and I love it when clients see the results of how it can drastically change the success rate of their marketing efforts.

From what it sounds like, you focus more on creating these targeted audiences for advertising campaigns. From what I’ve seen there’s huge opportunity for brands to segment their on-site visitors through the data available from their analytics. I’d love to provide a demo of Get Smart Content and share more of the success that we’ve seen through on-site targeting. Feel free to email me at taylor [at] getsmartcontent.com if you’re interested.

Posted by Taylor @ Get Smart Content | 4:08 pm on November 30, 2011.

Great read, John. You’re right on about the growing need for deeper audience targeting and management solutions that transforms low CPM run-of-site audience into first party high-value branded segments. Keep it up!

Posted by Ume2011 | 2:50 pm on December 20, 2011.

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