Targeted advertising – what is it, types of ads and targeting settings

The development of targeted advertising began with the active development and increasing availability of the Internet. Nowadays technologies allow using targeting mechanisms for offline advertising campaigns.

Targeting settings groups

Conditionally targeted advertising can be divided into groups of settings. Depending on the goals and characteristics of the campaign, targeting can be configured:

  • According to sociodemographic characteristics. This is a basic set of information about a user – gender, age, geodata, education. The sample can include a fairly large number of people, so it is recommended to split the campaign by each segment. For example, make different settings for Moscow and the Moscow region, different ads for men and women, for different age categories. The more targeted areas are identified, the more effective the campaign becomes.

  • By interest. Targeted advertising can reach an audience whose interests coincide with the proposed product. This includes contextual advertising in search engines. Also, the tool works well for members of thematic communities in social networks, an active audience, according to the behavior of which one can assume potential interest. Interest targeting makes it possible to specify campaigns as much as possible and form an offer that most closely meets the user’s needs. For example, display ads for a sports clothing collection to those interested in sports, and ads with models for children to young mothers. The more parameters are included in targeted advertising, the higher the quality of the traffic will be. The pool of settings is constantly replenished as users’ activity appears.

  • By places of online presence. This type of targeting allows you to target visitors to specific communities on the Internet. These can be groups on social networks, users of applications, game platforms, and thematic resources. The settings allow the advertiser to reach out to selected community members, expand the audience, or, conversely, prohibit displaying for some users.

  • According to the advertiser’s database. If the company has its own customer base with phone numbers or e-mail addresses, then you can target advertising by this parameter. For example, when launching a promotion for regular customers, it makes no sense to show an ad to those who are not yet a customer. In this case, the ad display is launched for the audience from the database. If there is a campaign to attract new customers, then the ad will not be shown to the marked users.

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Setting groups can be combined to narrow or expand your audience. It is also possible to optimize the campaign by complementing the basic settings.

Targeted advertising allows you to:

  • Set hours of ad display. For example, an advertiser delivers meals to the office. It makes no sense to run your ad before or after the work day and on weekends.

  • Set narrow settings. For example, show an ad to people who frequently visit a specific location or who are within a certain radius of that location.

  • Use targeting by universities, place of work, marital status, income.

At the stage of increasing awareness, it is rational to use fewer filters to maximize reach. More fine tuning is applied at the stage of increasing sales.

Pros and cons

Targeted advertising has a directional effect, so its effectiveness exceeds other formats. The main benefits include:

  • Addressing a high-quality target audience with the ability to personalize offers. If the ad meets the user’s needs, then the likelihood of targeted action is higher, the risk of causing irritation is less.

  • More accurate targeting of the user compared to other advertising tools. For example, in the same contextual advertising, the user may inaccurately formulate the request, and the ad will not be shown to him. And with a targeted campaign, for example, by interests, the user will see the ad.

  • Reduced campaign costs. Audience limitation and tweaking can help reduce costs.

  • Ability to use different presentation formatsincluding native species. Testing different types of ads within a campaign allows you to quickly determine the most successful ad format.

  • Targeted advertising can solve several problems at different stages of the campaign. This tool is suitable for building brand awareness and increasing sales.

The disadvantages include:

  • Higher cost per click. This is a relative disadvantage, as when fine-tuned, the conversions are higher and the total cost of the campaign falls due to the reduction in non-targeted impressions.

  • The need to set up campaigns very carefully, constantly monitor the results. Managing targeted ads really needs to be effective. There are automated services that simplify the tasks of drawing up a portrait of a user, selecting targeting settings, and selecting the most successful ad format. But fully automating campaigns is difficult.

  • Limitation. Due to the given parameters, there is a risk of missing a potentially interested part of users. This problem is solved when a look-alike is included in the selected audience segment. Then the ad will be seen by people with similar or related parameters.

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In fact, the disadvantages are conditional, since they are leveled out with the correct strategy and implementation.


In targeting, it is possible to use text, text-graphic blocks, banners, carousels, native posts in social media feeds. The selection of the most successful ad occurs as a result of testing different formats. You can take your closest competitors as a starting point – see what opportunities the most successful of them use.

One of the interesting formats is offered in Yandex.Navigator and Yandex.Maps. The organization’s address is marked with a large logo icon. Clicking on the icon expands the ad. Advertising is perceived naturally and unobtrusively – viewing of the ad is initiated by the user.

Advertising platforms

Popular platforms for campaigning: Facebook, Instagram, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Yandex and Google resources. The myTarget service offers accommodation on all platforms of the group and covers 94% of the audience of the Russian-speaking Internet.

Targeted advertising on all resources allows you to select an audience based on sociodemographic characteristics, behavior, contact information, previously visited sites (using a pixel). The exact settings vary from site to site:

  • Facebook. The functionality of working with ads is well implemented, which allows you to correct the content, change links in a few minutes. More than 50 analytics parameters provide an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness and adjust the campaign.

  • Instagram. The setup is done through the linked Facebook account.

  • In contact with. Flexible targeting system with the ability to upload your own user base by their ID in the social network, send ads, publish advertising posts in the feed.

  • myTarget. Combines access to all services, to VKontakte. Targeted ads can be shown in different formats. One of the most effective tools is multi-format. The advertiser generates several ads of different sizes and content, and the system automatically determines which block is best to show in a particular situation.

  • Yandex.Navigator and Yandex.Maps. Through them, you can attract an audience targeted by location very accurately. For example, people who often visit certain places, live or work near the specified address. The functionality of the Navigator allows you to display ads at the moment when a person is in the immediate vicinity of the desired object. In Maps, you can put a mark on a store inside a shopping center and display an ad for that part of the target audience that is now inside the shopping center.
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Possible mistakes

A decrease in the effectiveness of a campaign when working with targeted ads can be caused by:

  • Inflated or understated rates. If the bids are too high, the budget can be quickly spent, and the number of conversions will not grow in proportion to the costs. If the rate is too low, there is a risk of not reaching the audience. For example, the multi-format in myTarget selects the block that is optimal for display, taking into account the current bids in the auction. If the budget is not enough, the service will show not the most effective ad type, but the one that suits the price.

  • Poorly composed and designed ads. Illegible images or uninformative text will not interest the audience.

  • Lack of fine tuning. In this case, the reach increases, but the audience is blurred, conversions fall.

  • Using unnecessary restrictions. For example, when you set up income targeting, the audience drops out the part about the income of which the system does not have data.

Offline targeting

The opportunity to address the target audience is of interest to advertisers not only on the Internet, but also in the offline space. Here, targeting mechanisms are used as one of the cognitive marketing tools. For example, determining the MAC address, location, gender, age, and other characteristics allows you to run suitable advertising on digital billboards in shopping malls.

The material was prepared by Lyubov Polosina.

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