Demographics & Digital Marketing, Part 2: Retargeting

This five-part series details some of the history behind using demographics as part of a digital marketing strategy. In addition, we’ll talk about how you should approach online engagement, and which tools we find most useful for managing our campaigns.

In last week’s post, we discussed the evolution of online demography. Today we’re going to talk about one way you can use online demography: retargeting.

If it ever seems like advertisements are following you around the internet, you’re not paranoid…you’re right.

In the mid-90s, the advertising industry began to tap into the potential of the internet. Banner ads became very popular, and functioned as a huge source of revenue for the burgeoning world wide web. However, the majority of advertising was still handled in a very “old media” fashion. Companies would buy advertising space on websites they thought their audience frequented, and hope that would make an impression.

Many websites joined advertising networks or had external companies handle their advertising for them. These external companies, called Adservers, operated much like advertising agencies: curating banner ads and mailing lists. But this all changed when DoubleClick was founded.

DoubleClick was an Adserver that developed a technology called DART, (short for dynamic advertising reporting and targeting.) DART allows advertisers to build profiles based on the pages a user visits and the links that they click. It will then automatically serve that user targeted advertisements based off of the profile it builds.

This process is called behavioral retargeting (commonly called retargeting). Adservers like DoubleClick (now owned by Google), Ad Tech, Open X, AdColt, and Adzerk operate entirely off collecting this information. They act as a huge (if not primary) source of income for the internet as an industry. DoubleClick alone is a massive part of Google’s operation, considering that as of 2015 90.4% of their revenue is generated from advertising.

Because just about everybody online can be (and is) tracked using this strategy, advertisers are given a wide range of options to choose from. Audience sizes ranging from thousands down to single individuals can be targeted, allowing advertisers to segment their audience based on their gender, age, interests and location.

If you’re considering using retargeting as a strategy, here are some tips you may want to consider to help you get the most from it:

1. Measure user effectiveness

If you have an established audience already, consider having users take an NPS (net promoter score) survey. This way, you can establish how engaged with your content they are. This allows you to then target the people who will be more likely to spread the word about your company.

2. Remove disinterested people

If you’ve retargeted an advertisement to someone multiple times and they still haven’t converted, it’s best to remove him or her from your list. Annoying someone with your ad is not going to make them more likely to convert. In this case, not all press is good press.

3. Go hyper-local

Hyper-local targeting activates when a device enters a predetermined set of GPS coordinates. After the device enters this area, targeted advertisements or messages are displayed to the user. This information gets logged, and the user is then sent relevant ads after they leave the GPS radius as a part of regular retargeting.

There’s a lot of creative potential in hyper-local targeting. For instance, if you’re trying to attract a specific client, you could try setting up a hyper-local “geofence” around their office. Alternatively, you could set one up around your office and then your ads would continue to show up after potential clients came by for a preliminary meeting.

4. Avoid targeting too wide a group

If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to get specific with your segmentation. Focus your attention on a core group first, then after you’re established with them you can begin to branch out.

Next week: SEO outreach


Jason Janoski

Jason Janoski


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