Ad Targeting Reloaded

GDPR. Yes, there it is. The word that brings you sleepless nights. Beside that, it also led to larger discussions about advertising targeting. That is mainly, because with the GDPR (or at least with the new e-privacy policy in 2019), it becomes way harder to track and target individuals (in the EU, but let’s see who follows).

Time to have a closer look at targeting.
On wikipedia, it says that “Targeted advertising is a form of advertising where online advertisers can use sophisticated methods to target the most receptive audiences with certain traits, based on the product or person the advertiser is promoting.” In the further description it is defined as a measure, where you do not send your message to an unknown group of people, but only a selected sub-group. Fair. But do you really know how ths sub-group looks like? And how to handle this, when we are no longer allowed to do it? Or when people opt out? Or when people do not opt in (we’ll see this in 2019)?

To get this right. It is about limiting the group of people, you reach. It is said that this is more efficient and saves you a lot of money.
First, this can be really annoying from a user’s perspective (my own in this case). I want to also see new things, get inspired and change. I am not a one type customer, defined at birth. I am a human being and I am very unstable. This is where branding steps in. Maybe I was always after expensive shirts. Now, Mark Zuckerberg states that he only wears the same shirts, so he does not need to think about it. Fuck those expensive shirts. I had a great day, lets buy something crazy via supporting a Kickstartet project. I had a bad day, what the hell, why would anybody ever buy a flying yellow pen?! I am actually happy that the GDPR, at least, will provide me with more new experiences and less remarketing banners about stuff that I already bought 3 days ago.
And that’s where my second point steps in. Facebook and Google made it easy to set up targeted groups and send messages only to very specific users. As Xavier Cramer stated in a comment on, most marketeers (including him) are lazy. They use those simple tools, build target groups according to the manual and that’s it. The mentioned (very biased btw) wikipedia article says that, of course, you save money, when you cut out people that would not buy anyway. But are you really doing this by clicking your Facebook Ad-Manager-Buttons or aren’t you just building some random groups the way it feels right, without any deeper strategy? And even more important: Maybe you save 56 cents per click, but if you do not invest in a well-thought message, you still loose the other 16 cents, if your campaign sucks and no one buys. And I am not even talking about branding and why performance marketing kills brands.
Third, your conversion rate might be just perfect when playing one very, very targeted ad – but you just sold 1 item. If you want to scale, rates will go down and targeting will become harder.
(Fourth, you are targeting users, loving cats, working in lower Manhatten, loving blue ties. Congratulations, you just sold a car to Mr. Jiggles from our cover image 😉 .)

I want to keep it short for today. There are some Pro’s, there are some Con’s. For some it works better, for others not so.
The fact is, targeting becomes harder and most people are doing it wrong, anyway.

What to do?

To say it with the words of Matthew Arbon: “Target the market. Reach all category buyers.”
And get your message right!

If you take a step back, think of the Mad Men generation and your customers, you might come up with the idea, that you just need to play the right message, targeted for the right audience. Do not confuse this with the targeting from above, where you limit the channel. Here, it is about defining your target audience and how your message should look like to convince the to buy. If you can target/limit your channel afterwards to also clear out all other people, awesome! But try to reach the whole potential. And please, set your target audience first and design the right message. Otherwise, all targeted advertising is nothing more than sending money to Facebook, Google, and some specialized agencies.

And hey – Placedise supports you with this, by guiding you towards the ideal ad 😉 (or did you think, that I am writing this just for fun).

Let’s start and have a look at the ideal marketing mix from a scientific point of view: Marketing Mix Calculator


I just wanted to raise a lot of provoking questions with this post, so here’s another one for experts: In an ideal free market environment, do you really save money with targeted advertising compared to other measures or wouldn’t the supplier (based on the high demand) raise prices, so in the end, it only feels cheaper, but is not?!


Like it? Share it!
Rate this post!
Jens Kuerschner

Author: Jens Kuerschner

Jens Kuerschner is founder and CEO of Placedise. As an expert in the field of consumer behavior and media enthusiast, he is especially responsible for the product know-how. In our blog, this knowledge and the experience of many years of research and study will be shared with you.

Related Posts