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Audience Targeting
Sep 07, 2023

Audience targeting: a marketer’s guide

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Author Niyathi Rao

Audience targeting is not a new term: it is simply the process of using data to find the right person at the right moment. 

Audience targeting is particularly helpful in reducing ad spend wastage. In 2022, $5.6 billion of digital ad spend was wasted. Addressing this wastage issue, it is necessary for the industry to correctly target and reach the right audience. A report from ANA mentions that at least 23% of the $88 billion spent on ad buying is poorly placed and not correctly targeted. The solution? Audience targeting and segmentation. 

What is audience targeting?

Audience targeting (or sometimes referred to as “crowd targeting”) segments customers or consumers based on their demographic information, interests, or a host of other factors. Audience targeting helps marketers create campaigns that consider consumer needs, preferences, and lifestyles. This way ads are shown to those who are most likely to complete an action or make a transaction. Key data-led features like interests, behavior, and characteristics influence how audiences are segmented. 

Audience targeting ensures that little to no ad spend is wasted on incorrect sets of people. This improves conversion rates and ensures that brands access the right set of potential consumers. 

Different audience targeting strategies

There are three main types of audience targeting: demographic, psychographic, and behavioral.

Demographic audience targeting 

Demographic audience targeting is a powerful tool utilized by online marketers looking to target specific categories of people. Essentially, it hinges on demographic data, such as age, gender, education level, income bracket, race, marital status, and occupation. This type of targeting allows advertisers or businesses to target and deliver more relevant messages to those who match their set criteria for potential customers or prospects.

Psychographic audience targeting 

Psychographic audience targeting is an effective way to reach a specific group of users with tailored messages. This type of marketing strategy focuses on the values, interests, activities, and lifestyle choices of the target audience. Companies invest in this type of segmented advertising to ensure that their message resonates with potential customers on a deeper level than other forms of traditional marketing.

Behavioral audience targeting 

Behavioral targeting is a powerful tool for marketers to reach specific audiences and drive more relevant messaging. Generally speaking, this type of audience targeting is based on data about an individual’s past behaviors and activities. This data includes websites they’ve visited, other ads they’ve clicked on, or even items they’ve purchased in the past. By gathering information from users who demonstrate similar interests or activities, it’s possible to create narrowly defined audience segments that are likely to be interested in certain related products and services.

Types of data sets used for audience targeting strategy

Data for audience targeting and audience segmentation comes from two sources:


First-party data is a valuable source of information for any business. It is the data that companies collect themselves from customers, such as past purchases and other customer interactions. This data can provide insight into specific customer segments, what their interests and preferences are, how they behave online, and more. As part of an overall data strategy, first-party data can be used to understand general trends in demographics or consumer interest and provides a window into the behavior of a brand’s most engaged audience.

Businesses use first-party data for segmentation purposes which allows them to target customers with personalized messages based on the insights gathered from their own database. It can also be used for predictive analytics which helps marketers know what types of offers and content will resonate best with a given customer group or individuals. 

Additionally, first-party data can also be repurposed in combination with third-party data sources like Nielsen to build more comprehensive audience profiles that increase the precision of targeted campaigns. Ultimately, combining first- and third-party data into one strategy enables brands to make smarter marketing decisions while increasing response rates in a cost-efficient manner.


Third-party data is an important tool for marketing and advertising campaigns. This data is collected, segmented, and sold by data providers for businesses to effectively reach specific market audiences. 

It can be used to rapidly expand a campaign’s reach by targeting large groups that don’t quite fit the criteria of first- or second-party data sets. Through public data exchanges, demand-side platforms (DSPs), or data management platforms (DMPs), businesses can purchase third-party data to locate and acquire potential customers beyond what first-party data can produce on its own.

Though third-party data tends to provide less targeted results than first- or second-party solutions, it allows larger corporations with greater budgets to quickly scale an advertising campaign without having to extensively research their target audience. No longer do companies have to spend countless hours investigating customer interest before segmenting a campaign – third-party data does the work for them almost instantaneously. 

Advanced third-party data collection methods, like cookieless marketing, are considered the future in this regard, as different jurisdictions clamp down on how third party is collected. 

Why knowing your target audience is essential?

Having an effective marketing plan and strategy is essential for any business. Marketers need to understand their target audience to create successful plans that will bring in customers and revenue. Knowing the target audience can help marketers make smarter decisions when it comes to how they allocate their advertising budget.

Once you know the target audience, it is easier to build personas. These personas will go a long way in establishing brand engagement and voice with consumers. 

Audience targeting strategies from the experts

Audience targeting helps you reach consumers who are potential customers and show interest in the business. 

Engage with audiences for effective marketing

Engaging with your audience is a critical step in any marketing or advertising campaign. Using segmented groups allows for direct feedback from those you’re looking to target, which in turn informs the decisions needed when crafting a comprehensive approach to your marketing campaign. 

This method helps marketers construct questions tailored specifically for customer understanding based on those same customer needs, enabling them to identify which areas are most likely driving actionable decisions geared towards future brand engagement. The post-meeting analysis also gives insight as to what’s resonating with potential customers regarding the brand’s identity, products, services, and overall value proposition. 

Create useful content to appeal to your target audience

Creating useful content on social media is an essential part of any successful digital marketing campaign. Content should be tailored to the target audience to draw engagement and create a strong connection.

It’s important to have a well-thought-out content strategy in place when planning content creation to ensure that it appeals to the chosen audience. For instance, if your primary focus is Instagram then the posts created should be visual and focused on topics that are likely to get attention from followers. Special offers, shoutouts, incompatibility, and sharing reviews are all great ways to create useful content in a way that resonates with potential customers or followers. 

It can also be beneficial to research other accounts or companies within your industry to observe the kind of content they are producing and how successful it appears on their platform. Smart targeting techniques can help filter potential followers who would have an interest in your products or services, making sure you get maximum visibility among the right people.

Remarket with Google Ads

Google Ads is a good option for remarketing or native advertising campaigns to target the right audience. From there, one can increase personalization in their ads to improve marketing results. Since you know the audience, you can create personalized group profiles or categories within the platform to customize advertisements or messages. 

A/B test your targeting to ensure it’s impactful

A/B testing is an invaluable tool for any brand looking to maximize their marketing potential. By segmenting their audience into two groups, A and B (or C, D, E, and beyond in many cases), companies can test which variation of content works best with their target market. With this technique, companies can experiment with different versions of a tweet or advertisement before officially launching it, helping them mitigate risk towards their final campaign.

It’s important to remember that A/B testing is not just a way to “test the waters”; it also helps ensure you’re effectively targeting your prospective consumers and optimizing your results. Doing so will help you gain insights into what messages resonate best with your customers and create campaigns that make a maximum impact without wasting too many resources. Ultimately, A/B testing is a great tool to ensure you achieve the success you desire from a marketing perspective.

Give importance to SEO

Showing up in a consumer’s feed or search is essential. Simply being in front of the consumer can lead them to choose the brand. Audience targeting needs to include keyword research and rank for relevant terms. This encourages people who are actively looking for similar solutions to engage and look into your products or services too. 

Start tracking

Using event tracking on a website can be highly beneficial for businesses looking to improve their online presence. Allowing companies to see how visitors are interacting with the site, event tracking can provide insights that would otherwise not be known (give examples, like heat mapping or TOS, etc.). With analytics to measure the performance of certain content and pages, companies will be able to adjust and optimize their digital strategy based on collected data.

Bottom line 

Audience targeting is an important aspect of online advertising. Tracking and analytics can improve performance and increase return on investment from campaigns. Targeting helps brands tailor their message accurately and deliver it to the right people, thus achieving the best results from their advertising budget.

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