Technology drives innovation in the advertising and marketing industries, and while emerging solutions like AI and proximity beacons are at the center of some very exciting experiments, most marketers still rely on tactical staples to maintain a steady growth trajectory, e.g. creative audience targeting. This is a practice dating back to the origins of advertising, but the technological developments over the last fifteen years have dramatically increased its effectiveness, and that’s great news for modern marketers.
For many, it’s their first opportunity to get creative. Targeting optimization within contemporary ad platforms is equal parts art and science, and though every product is unique, certain best-practices have been proven to be effective no matter what you’re selling. Keeping these strategies in mind during the early stages of campaign development can help ensure that all subsequent efforts generate the highest possible returns. Here’s a list of essential targeting practices every campaign manager should have in their toolbox.
Much like real-estate, location is one of the most important factors for effective audience targeting. This is as true for apps as it is for physical products or services. Travel app marketers are able to reach a hyper-relevant audience segment by targeting customers in and around airports. When user-level financial data is unavailable, finance app marketers can reach their intended audience by using residential neighbourhoods as a proxy for household income. Even the more tech-forward brick-and-mortar business are discovering the value of targeting users in proximity to their retail locations. If you’re not taking advantage of location targeting capabilities, you’re missing out on efficiencies that could go a long way towards improving your app’s ROAS.
One of the most effective ad targeting strategies is to pursue audience segments that demonstrate an interest in one of your competitors. It’s a widely embraced tactic, especially among search campaigns. Branded keywords are a clear indicator that a prospect is in the process of qualifying a product similar to your own. Capitalize off this opportunity by developing campaigns, landing pages and/or marketing content that speak directly to this type of customer. Avoid demonstrating bias by developing collateral that objectively compares your product to your competitor’s. Focus on giving your customers all the information they need to make an informed decision, and you’ll see an uptick in qualified leads moving through your funnels.
Effective campaigns are all about efficiency and concision. Don’t be afraid to use negative targeting features to narrow your focus. They can be instrumental in filtering out pockets of your target audience that you’re reasonably certain won’t convert, resulting in lower acquisitions costs. For example, when using browser history to define your target, consider filtering out users that have only ever visited your site’s careers page. Though they may match some of your broadest targeting criteria (website visitors), it’s fair to assume that most of these individuals are more interested in being hired than buying any products or services you may have to offer.
By setting aside dedicated campaign resources for reaching customers that have demonstrated an interest in conversion, marketers can tap into a high-value segment capable of driving cost-effective results. This is known as retargeting, and it most commonly deals with customers who have visited a brand’s app store page or website. Ecommerce marketers are able to pair this technique with dynamic marketing tactics (more on those below) to convert customers that approach the final funnel stages without ever completing a purchase.
App marketers tasked with advertising a catalogue rather than a single offering historically had to prioritize top-performing SKUs, as they simply didn’t have the resources to manage campaigns for every product. Developments in ad tech, especially from the duopoly of Google and Facebook, have changed that. Marketers can run dynamic campaigns that adapt to the sort specific user criteria most often used in retargeting campaigns. For example, an e-commerce app marketer could maintain a catalog of product creatives that would then be dynamically added to an ad impression depending on the individual user’s history. In this way, the user is reminded of a product they’ve already demonstrated an interest in, and are regularly encouraged to complete the purchase.
Audience targeting is a crucial aspect of campaign management and should never be rushed. Managed properly, changes in targeting criteria can be one of the quickest and most effective ways of optimizing an underperforming growth funnel. Keep these best-practices in mind as you go on to ideate and validate your own strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to strong return-on-ad-spend.