Audience Targeting: 2014 will be about putting the audience at the centre

According to the IAB, the biggest trend in Advertising in the next seven years will be audience targeting and furthermore, it will be bigger than Search. In fact the IAB has gone as far to predict that 'In 2020, audience targeting investment is projected to exceed Search spend".

Google believes this is a massive opportunity for performance agencies and their clients 'because the skills needed to do audience well, like auction based real-time bidding expertise, have already been honed in Search. Complex, data driven strategies that have been developed for Search will translate to audience. Where you have been experts in keywords, you now need to be experts in cookies. Keywords and cookies together is a powerful combination to power all your digital investment including, of course, Search'. [Source: Fintan Gillespie - Google, 2013]

And at Greenlight, we believe audience targeting is set to be one of the biggest trends for 2014. Audience targeting reduces the speculative costs of advertising and allows you to invest directly into the right customer segments, advocates, engagers and friends of fans.

What is audience targeting exactly?

When we refer to audience targeting, we're effectively relating to using audience signals to target the most relevant customer segments.

In other words:

 1) Who they are, i.e. gender, age, demographic.

 2) Where they've been, i.e. site visit, location.

 3) What they like, i.e. interests, preferences.

Collectively, these signals allow us to have a better understanding of our target audience, beyond the search query (keyword), and allows us to adapt and target our digital strategies accordingly.

As well as putting mobile first, audience targeting was also one of the main drivers behind Google's biggest change in ten years, Enhanced Campaigns. Although an initial sceptic of Enhanced Campaigns, ten months on I personally love the way Enhanced Campaigns has turned the Search world on its head, making us think beyond the keyword and about the person behind it.

Google is using this new focus on AdWords to push out betas such as Remarketing for Search Ads (RSLA) and Demographic Targeting; two very exciting initiatives that bring a whole new layer of efficiency and testing options to our campaigns. RLSA as a standalone beta has removed the fear factor when bidding on generics because we already know if the customer is engaged and willing to purchase, thus improving our return on advertising spend and overall efficiency in campaign management.

The proof is in the pudding as according to Google 'RLSA shows 48% lower CPAs than the rest of Search spend'. [Source: Google, 2013)

Audience targeting isn't new in Search, though...

Think about it, audience targeting is also social media advertising: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and so on. As users, we tell these platforms everything about us, making it far easier to target us even at an individual level, if we really wanted to. Social media advertising and audience targeting is playing a vital role in the wider digital strategy pushing brand, growth and acquisition and we've definitely seen the benefits for clients at Greenlight.

Thinking about the wider digital landscape, audience targeting is ironically what Display has been doing all along, yet we've criticised the lack of results Display delivers. However since Real-time Bidding (RTB) was introduced into the mix, Display has taken some massive leaps in growth and performance.

Now Search is doing the same, putting the audience first and targeting multiple customer segments. The keyword ironically is now secondary to the process. Google pushing audience targeting reaffirms its dominance in Search, but also helps push other channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram who haven't see the same growth from their own advertising programme. Audience targeting is fitting for retail, finance and travel and particularly for luxury brands where the inclusion of audience targeting via Social Advertising is delivering an uplift in Search (and in some cases is actually seeing a greater return on investment (ROI) than Search).

2014 is here and it's only a matter of time before we'll all be talking about audience targeting…putting the audience at the centre of our digital strategies.

Catch up with more of our predictions for SEO, E-commerce and Social in Edition 10 of The Greenlight Magazine, ' The Predictions' issue

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