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.

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.