INSIGHTS | Digital Marketing

Strategies for Social Media Targeted Ads

In the old, pre-Internet days, advertisers would select the media outlets to place their ads in based almost solely on the promised socio-economic makeup of the media outlet’s audience.

If you were Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue in New York, you advertised your goods in the New York Times, which promised an upscale, fashionable, largely female readership. If you were selling Heinz Ketchup, a 30-second ad on NBC-TV would reach masses of people, many if not most of whom liked to squeeze out some ketchup on their hot dogs. 

These days, the advertising game is being played, more and more, on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok and all the others. And the name of the new game is targeted ads.

In the old days, you’d run an ad and hope that enough people in the demographic you were selling into would see it and buy. 

Nowadays, you run an ad, but tell the social media platform exactly who your audience is, and the platform, say Facebook, only delivers your ad to the groups and individuals you specify.  That is a far more efficient and cost-effective way to spend your advertising dollars.

The idea is to deliver your ad only to people most likely to see it and click to purchase.  If you’re selling ketchup, you don’t want to waste money trying to convert mustard lovers. You want to find every ketchup lover out there and show them your ad. 

When you run ads on Meta for Business (formerly Facebook Ad Manager) you tell the platform to target your ad to specific people and groups. And because Meta has spent years gathering all kinds of demographic information on the people who use their platform, they can easily put your ad in front of the eyes of specific people.

When working with Meta to develop a targeted audience for your ads, they can draw on a wide range of criteria, including:

  • Interests (hobbies, sports, books, etc.)
  • Gender
  • Relationship Status
  • Educational Status
  • Age
  • Location, including if someone lives in an area or just visiting
  • Language
  • Occupation, as well as job title targeting
  • Purchasing behavior
  • Attendance at life events, conferences etc

Meta will help advertisers build custom audiences for your company and products. Working from lists of phone numbers of your customers, email addresses, purchaser lists and more, Meta will build on common demographics to build a customized audience.

You can also specify a lookalike audience, groups whos specific profiles match those of your customer base. Meta uses website tracking pixels to help develop this data.

Once you have a target audience, you can test ads on different segments, layer target options and combine demographics, behaviors and geolocation data.

The other social media platforms offer similar audience-building programs for your advertising, Twitter, for instance, breaks its targeting options into three categories:

  • Demographics: location, language, device, age and gender 
  • Audience types: conversations, events, tweet engagers, keywords, movies & tv, interests and lookalikes
  • Your audiences: this distinguishes between targeting your followers and building a custom audience 

Tik-Tok, Instagram, Linked-In and others all offer similar programs.

There are six basic types of customer targeting used by most social media platforms.

Demographic targeting: Based on personal data collected by the platform about its users

Interest/Behavioral targeting: Targets customers who display certain interests and behaviors in web and mobile browsing (pages visited, searches performed, links clicked, products purchased) and physical behaviors like location, event attendance and in-store purchases.

Predictive targeting: This category applies machine learning and AI to predict the best products to show certain customers, which customers are most likely to covert and build lookalike audiences of people who exhibit similar behaviors.

Retargeted or remarketing: This targeting method uses cookies, tracking pixels, email lists and CRM data to serve ads to users who display interest in a product of service, who visited your website, looked up certain search terms or otherwise engaged with your business.

Custom targeting:  This method uses data you input (CRM data, email lists, past purchase data or other proprietary data) to build your own custom audience.

It’s clear that this new kind of advertising is right on target. If you need assistance, or want to talk to someone about targeting your audience better, please contact us at Fuel Media.