Getting personal. The better you see your target, the better you’ll aim.

Getting personal

Of the various Internet targeting tactics, User Profile-based targeting has distinct advantages for hyper-targeting.

User profiles – the richer, the better – allow you to proactively target your message to those that have scored as more likely to have a personal affinity for what you send to them.

As more and more data can now be accumulated and analyzed in massive data sets, three trends are emerging:

  • Advertising dollars are continuing to shift from print, direct mail and broadcast to digital.
  • User Profile targeting is gaining share of wallet among SEO, Social and other digital tactics.
  • The time spent on handhelds like smartphones and tablets is surpassing laptops and desktop computers, so cross-device campaigns need User Profile data to reach each individual with the right message at the most receptive times.

Let’s be clear. We’re focused on mega-files of anonymous data. And because the user profiles are anonymous, SIZE MATTERS. The sheer number of profiles and the number of individual attributes within each profile affect what marketers want for a campaign.

  • How precise is my targeting?
  • Is my target audience large enough (scalable) to sustain the campaign?

Of course, not all User Profiles are created equal. So the QUALITY of the data also matters.

Because profiles are anonymous – and to get a little technical here – they are created from Deterministic and Probabilistic information gathered online and offline.

  • As marketers, we love Deterministic input. It’s real “hand-raising” action that, for example, tracks specific logins, purchasing history, browsing history, and downloads to reveal what the individual buys, cares about, and brand relationships of specificity and type.

Social Networks and Search Engines profiles are essentially created from Deterministic information.

  • We also like Probabilistic input because it infers information about the individual based on algorithmic modeling to match anonymous profiles to how, when and where the same user connects on different devices to serve ads in formats for the device. They also predict browsing behavior so our targeted ads can be displayed on sites the target likely visits.

Ad networks and data management platforms weigh in with more Probabilistic input to more precisely refine the profiles for better targeting.

  • How much is first party data? The more, the better.
    • First party data are what sets competing profilers apart.
    • How many attributes of first party data are in the user profiles?
  • How much is 3rd party data? Some 3rd party data is better than others.
    • Through affinity and partnership deals, advertisers share proprietary 1st party data to enrich user profiles on data management platforms with competitive safeguards for everyone.
    • There are also data collections of real anonymized people offered by 3rd party vendors. These are useful for demographics like age and gender.
    • How frequently is each Profile updated? Real time? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? This will become ever more critical to keep pace with viewers’ at-that-moment needs and competitors that reach them before you do.

So what’s a marketer to do? Here’s where your budget and results – your Bottom Line Metrics – come into play.

Generally speaking, the major sources for User Profile targeting differ on pricing and precision.

  • Search Engines and Social Networks maintain shallow data profiles on lots of users. And they leave the end-user with the task of combining these few targeting options to create the audience.

This allows do-it-yourself advertisers to create small budgets – usually starting at a few thousand dollars for a campaign.

  • Internet Advertising platforms and networks are designed to gateway people and advertisers. They also reach upwards of 100% of U.S. online users, but their profiles are much deeper to match their mission.

That’s how these service providers make their money, and because it’s so technical, they need to be in the process from start to finish. That’s why advertisers and agencies turn to them for campaign planning and execution from Audience development to Campaign delivery.

It’s shouldn’t be a surprise that larger budgets – starting in the low 5-figures – result from more sophisticated User Profile targeting.

And think about it. How different are those Business Development advertising scenarios from the pre-Internet era?

Some advertisers did it themselves. They knocked on doors, went to meetings, handed out business cards and flyers, and hung signs in their windows. To grow, they scaled up their locations and personnel to do more of the same.

Others budgeted bigger for broader reach by looking to publishers and broadcast networks to locate their audience and deliver their campaign. To grow, they scaled up their print quantities, circulations, and broadcast reach.

Finally, to see results, and gauge your campaign ROI, you need to be committed to a campaign for at least a couple of months with enough budget to serve enough exposures to get a response.

Balancing the target to audience size continuum


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.