Keywords still reign supreme in paid search, but audience targeting can take your campaigns to the next level. While display and paid social offer the largest number of targeting options, search audiences have come a very long way and offer many practical features which can help you reach your marketing goals. Here are some options for your audience-targeting strategy.
1. Demographic Targeting
You can target by age, gender, parental status, household income (HHI) or combinations thereof. Some examples:
- A travel and leisure company catering to an older, more affluent audience, could increase bids for people over age 55 and in a higher income bracket.
- A clothing store exclusively for young men could tailor ads specifically to them and have entirely different ads intended for the parents shopping for their sons.
- Check out a great article by The Search Agency’s very own Ami Grant that dives further into demographic targeting.
2. Location/Device Targeting and Ad Scheduling
Location targeting helps you show your ads to customers in a selected geographic location. Device targeting allows you to adjust bids separately for computers, mobile devices and tablets. Ad scheduling allows you to control the day and/or hour your ads appear online based on when you’re there to handle customer inquiries. Combine all three elements into your targeting strategy as it applies to your business:
- As a classic example, a pizza restaurant probably wants to show one ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 1 p.m. on their PC at work, and a different ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 8 p.m. on a smartphone a half-mile from the restaurant.
- A financial services company sees the strongest conversion rates on Friday, for people searching on desktops in the LA and NY metros. Therefore, they should bid boost all three targets to get in front of these high-value customers.
- Note: Multiple bid adjustments for device and location do not necessarily get multiplied together.
3. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads
Tailor bids and ads for people who have previously visited your site when they’re searching online.
- Segment your RLSA audience by membership duration (i.e. zero to seven days, eight to 31 days, 31 to 180 days) and taper down bid adjustments or create tailored ads depending on how long ago they visited. Test different incentives and promotions to drive conversions.
- Segment your RLSA audience by website interaction (researchers vs. high-intent) and re-engage these visitors with a message that will get them to take the next step towards conversion.
- If an advertiser’s goal is to attain new customers, they could refine their audience strategy by excluding converters from brand campaigns and increase bid adjustments for non-converters.
4. Similar and In-Market Audiences
Apply auto-generated similar audiences to find new and qualified consumers who have shared interests with your remarketing audiences. Opt into in-market audiences to reach potential customers while they’re actively browsing, researching or comparing the types of products you sell.
Within each of these different methods of targeting, you can implement bid adjustments up to a 900-percent increase or as low as a -90-percent (-100 percent to opt out of a device) decrease based on where, when and how people search for your product or service. At the very least, you should be adding as many audiences as possible in an observational state to gather data and make informed decisions down the road. Based on this data, your next step would be to create a unique, customized strategy using the various targets. Throughout the entire process, there are some mistakes and pitfalls you should try to avoid when implementing your new audiences, lists and/or bid adjustments. Some of them are as follows:
- Not Having a Strategy: Strategies should be specific to your overall business. Start with the basics by adding audiences to gather data and build out according to performance.
- Be Aware of Settings: Incorrect targeting or observation settings can adversely impact performance if applied incorrectly. Use observations to gather data and guide further actions in your campaigns. Use targeting to narrow your reach to a specific audience which you’ve deemed valuable.
- List Size Matters: Extremely niche lists can be ineffective as the list size will be too small to generate or gather enough data to provide meaningful analysis. Also, if a list is too small and has low volume, it won’t be eligible to have a similar audience list created.
- Set Relevant Membership Duration: Select a duration equal to the length of time you expect your ads to be relevant for your visitors. In general, the membership duration should be similar to the length of your sales cycle.