With the recent revelations about Facebook’s data leak, there’s been much discussion lately about how much data Facebook and other platforms, like Google, have about their users. Without a doubt, this data in the wrong hands can have consequences for society as a whole, and companies like Facebook and Google should go to every extreme to secure it.
For we advertisers, internet data is anonymous. We can’t request a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of people who browse certain websites or like particular things on social media. It’s all available for advertisers in groups; for example, we can target 10,000 people in the Knoxville area who are homeowners and have an interest in college football, but we don’t know their names or any other personal information.
This data should remain anonymous. Nothing about anyone’s browser history, search history, or Facebook profile should be made available to anyone on a name-by-name basis.
That being said, this data can be used to make advertising more effective for businesses and more relevant and helpful to consumers because it allows advertisers to hone their messages and ads to very particular groups of people. It’s the future of advertising.
Below is a brief breakdown of the targeting options we as advertisers and businesses have to reach the ideal customers.
Geographical targeting can work in a few ways. You can target consumers based on where they live, where they currently are, or when they are traveling in particular locations (think: tourists or business travelers).
How the data is collected: Users’ geographical information is collected via the IP address of their internet connection – for both cell phone coverage and wifi/hard wired internet connections – or via GPS if they have location sharing settings activated on their phones.
Behavioral targeting takes many things into account about the audience. Primarily, it looks at the content users engage with – from videos to online shopping to searches. Many ad platforms also offer something called in-market audiences which targets audiences who are currently in the market for a certain type of product or service based on their web browsing habits.
How the data is collected: Users’ online behaviors and interests are gathered via cookies that are placed in your internet browser that tracks the sites visited and content engaged with across the web. If you want to get an idea of how accurate some of the data on you is, visit https://datacloudoptout.oracle.com/registry/ and see how accurate it is or isn’t, but keep in mind that this is just one data source of many.
Demographics is a form of behavioral targeting since some of the data is guessed at due to behavioral characteristics mentioned above; however, there are more direct data sources for some of this info, too (like Facebook and LinkedIn profile info), so it’s not strictly based on behavior. When advertisers target demographically, we are targeting characteristics like age, gender, income level, homeowner status, job title, job function, etc.
How the data is collected: As mentioned, some of this data is collected by connecting the dots of behavioral characteristics; for example, someone who frequents many web coding websites is likely a web developer, but it can also be based on info users provide to websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and other online accounts.
Contextual targeting is much akin to the traditional method of placing ads in that advertisers place ads on websites where the topics closely align with what they’re promoting. For instance, a restaurant may place ads on food-focused websites like Zomato.
How the data is collected: With contextual targeting, advertisers aren’t as concerned with the user as they are the placement, so user data doesn’t really come into play here.
Retargeting (also referred to as remarketing) has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry over the past 4 or 5 years. Retargeting is where an advertiser places a cookie in their website visitors’ browsers that allows them to show these same users ads as they visit other websites. With retargeting, advertisers can even be selective with who sees ads and what ads they see. For instance, we can choose to only show ads to people who visited the about page or we can show a particular ad that matches a product or service they viewed on the site.
How the data is collected: Retargeting collects data by placing a cookie in visitors’ web browsers that allows them to build their own audience of people who have visited their website. Again, no identifying information about their web users is collected unless freely given by the visitor in a contact form or similar.
Layering the Data
Layering the above data in creative ways to reach the ideal audience is what always brings our clients the most success. For instance, we often layer things like demographic data and geographical data. An example of this would be targeting attorneys in a 5-mile radius around Atlanta, GA. As another more complex example, we could target attorneys in a 5-mile radius around Atlanta, GA who are in the market for new accounting software and have visited a client’s website in the past 30 days – this audience would likely be too small to target, but it’s still a possibility.
Data is a powerful tool for advertisers. Yielded correctly (and responsibly), it allows businesses to focus their ad budgets on specific audiences. From the consumer’s point of view, I would also argue it makes ads they see useful and helpful since they’re relevant to them, rather than just irrelevant visual clutter.
Interested in how we can help you take your marketing to the next level using the power of data? Give us a call and let’s chat about your next campaign!