A traveler’s guide to Geo-targeted Advertising

A traveler's guide to Geo-targeted AdvertisingAdventure travel and geo-targeted Internet advertising have a lot in common.

Consider this definition from Wikipedia: “Adventure travel is a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel with perceived (and possibly actual) risk, and potentially requiring specialized skills and physical exertion.”

Well, maybe not the physical exertion because you’re doing the heavy lifting at your desk, but you’re certainly risking dollars with your specialized skills.

Geo-targeted display ads are the rage promoted by the major tour operators – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo, Bing. They’re all clamoring for your ad dollars.

And while the Web can take your ad anywhere in the world, your campaign may not come back with the souvenirs like you hoped when you planned your adventure.

So, here are some travel tips before you set out on your journey.

Know the technology that’s being used to deliver your ad. And remember – your ad is targeted to devices, not the users and profiles of those users (more on that later).

IP-based targeting is the underlying technology – the compass – used by the search engines and social media ad programs. The limitations of IP mapping can be like magnets that throw the compass’ needle out of whack.

IP-based targeting delivers your ad to the computer’s geographic location based on the Internet Protocol address assigned by its ISP (Internet Service Provider). The IP address does not have a direct correlation to exact geography like a ZIP code. Private networks, corporate networks, rural and exurban areas (from where ISP’s reroute users to their server buildings) are just some of the intervening factors.

Travelers TipTravelers Tip: IP mapping accuracy is not 100%. The more granular you get, the less accurate it becomes so your ad will be delivered to viewers who aren’t in the territory. It’s pretty good down to the City/Metropolitan area level. It’s offered at the zip code level, but approach cautiously.

A/B test until you get it right. For example, bundle a few neighboring zip codes rather than using just one or expand/contract the radius around your center point.

Mobile or Location-based targeting is the other underlying technology, but despite the huge gains in mobile access by users, it has not gained traction with the advertising programs offered by search engines and social networks.

Mobile or Location-based targeting gets its geographic information in one of two ways: Confirmed or Derived. Confirmed location targeting depends on the user turning on the device’s GPS capabilities or when the user “checks in” at a location. Derived relies on inferences such as tri-angulation of cell towers and mapped Wi-Fi hot spots.

IP-base targeting to devices is much less sophisticated than targeting actual users that fit an actual profile of your target audience. Since search engines and social networks don’t maintain the depth of user information to support user profile-based advertising, IP targeting works for them.

Travelers TipTravelers Tip: IP-based geo-targeting is a good way to get your campaign into the general area for most of your audience, but it’s not a precise map to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You need to include other targeting factors when planning your campaign.

So user information comes into play. You need to know who are you targeting.

The search engines and social networks aggregate their data and also apply some analytics to create modifiers to refine the Geo-targeting for better ROI. Google, for example, uses the search histories of their users. Facebook uses Profile information and aggregates information on users’ friends to better define the individual.

User-profile based targeting is highly effective for hyper-targeted campaigns because the profiles have much more direct 1st party online data that have been gathered from multiple sources. All kinds of behavioral and shopping history data are in each profile. Geographic information – both IP and Location-based – are just a couple of the hundreds of attributes within each profile. This allows the data managers to create very specific campaign Audiences from millions of profiles with hundreds of attributes on each profile.

Geo-targeting and User profile targeting can both lead to great campaigns. Like travel plans, your campaigns cost thousands of dollars. Plan your budget to try both, and scale up what works best over time.

Happy Trails…

Want to hit more targets? Aim better with hyper-targeting.

Hyper-target to find your prospects

OK, so you’re targeting your direct mail, print, and local broadcast by zip codes or subscribers to magazines or newspaper readership or cable channel zones. That’s what you – and most other small and medium size businesses (SMB’s) – have done for decades to generate traffic and awareness that your doors are open.

The problem is that you know it’s so 20th Century and you have a sense about moving into the Digital Age, but you’re not sure where to begin.

Start with what you know: good marketing still means getting the right message in front of the right audience. Internet marketing offers clear alternatives to some of the massive dollars still being spent on direct mail, print and local broadcast.

With Internet advertising, your ad dollars are spent more efficiently by reaching more precise targets.

First and foremost, recognize that the Internet can gather better targeting information than the static traditional methods. Digital data is so widespread in our lives that it’s coined the term Big Data because of the volume, variety, and the velocity at which it’s generated.

Secondly, the best targeting begins with 100’s of millions of individual data profiles. The more characteristics/data points in each profile, the more precisely profiles can be selected and aggregated into targeted audiences with the means of reaching them based on their histories of where they go online.

The data is gathered from sources like your online registrations, cookies, and click/visit activities, plus what’s compiled from social platforms, blogs, sharing sites, Tweets, retail apps – even those cards you swipe at check-out for discounts – are analyzed and modeled for aggregation into very large hyper-targeted audience files for online display advertisers.

These huge troves of data are much more extensive than what search engines like Google or Bing can gather from user search histories. Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing is effective for reaching audience members that are specifically seeking something at the time, but that only scratches the surface of targeting.

Data-driven Online Display Marketing allows advertisers to create campaigns that serve their ads to large audiences, where and when the users that meet their customer profile will most likely see it.

The two strongest types of targeting are Behavioral Targeting and Contextual Targeting.

Behavioral Targeting uses profile information that is based on an individual user’s viewing behavior to target ads specific to their interests.

Contextual Targeting serves advertising messages based on content being viewed on an individual Web page. Contextual targeting can often be hyper-targeted geographically (Zip code, neighborhoods, cities…) because the content is often of a local context. Contextual targeting based on the Web page being viewed is also an excellent means for real-time targeting based on the viewer’s interests; e.g., vacation, sports, health and wellness…

If your advertising spend on print, direct mail, TV and cable is 10’s of thousands of dollars annually, you owe it to yourself to move some of those dollars into Internet display. Then you’ll have a mix of marketing channels that blends the new with the old.

Balancing the target to audience size continuum

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Advertisers have lots of choices for parceling out precious ad dollars.

The challenge is to focus on the best-qualified targets while delivering in scale to an audience large enough to impact top line sales and bottom line results.

Online display advertising has unique advantages over direct mail, print, and broadcast media in meeting this challenge.

  • Hyper-targeting can identify audience more precisely than generalized readership, zip codes and delivery zones demographics.
  • Online activity is so pervasive that ad exposures are delivered in scale.
  • Real-time analysis can deploy campaign assets to optimize for results.

Consider what hyper-targeting can mean for your marketing strategy.

  • Messaging differences to your customers and prospects.
  • Targeting messages by behavioral and purchasing characteristics.
  • Cross-device targeting to find the right users as they migrate throughout their day from PC to smartphone to tablet.
  • Re-targeting to readers that have not yet completed the desired result.
  • Messaging sequencing to build on what your targets actually view.
  • Focus campaign dollars to reduce wasted broadcast, print, and direct mail dollars on unqualified viewers.

Enterprise-size organizations have had an exclusive hold on these tactics for years because of budget commitments. Smaller companies are now re-evaluating their budgets. Instead of a series of one-shot expenditures, online display creates a continuous presence that keeps your ad dollars available to be directed towards your defined targets.

Data sets, software, and delivery mechanisms are the cornerstones to successful online display campaigns.

Look for resources with data sets that are huge in both the sheer number of individuals, and the scope of information on file for each of them. With that much data, they’ll have invested in the data management platform technology to create your hyper-targeted audiences. Key features and capabilities should include:

  • Extensive 1st party data, not just cookie tracking histories.
  • More data points for precise audience targeting.
  • Full-scale market reach to create the targeted audience in scale for your campaign.

And besides defining your audience, these resources will have the means to deliver your message so you’re on a level playing field with the big advertisers.

  • Thousands of publishers’ web sites for message delivery.
  • Real-time Bidding so your dollars will win the ad space.
  • Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn social network access.
  • Integration with mobile and tablet apps to expand your reach to those users.

These are some of the reasons that Internet advertising is pulling ahead as the number one – but not exclusive – choice for businesses that balance the risk to their ad dollars.

These businesses use a mix of Internet display with the traditional 20th Century media to capitalize on the targeting to audience size ratios that these media offer while minimizing the waste.