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11 Top Targeting Options in Display Advertising Today

Published: October 26, 2016

Author: Sophia Fen

As we say hello to chillier temperatures (except maybe here in SD – sorry, rest of the US), we thought it was timely to compile some of the coolest targeting available in display (that can also help boost ROI). Since display enables brands to reach users almost anywhere on the web, and it’s more about the audience you’re reaching instead of the specific site your ad shows up on, targeting becomes that much more important.
display ad weather targeting
Below I explore some of the most unique types of targeting available in the display space today. (Key word: Today. Capabilities change as targeting and technology evolve, so ask me in a year and my list might be completely different.)

1.      Email domain targeting

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could target people receiving emails from your competitors? Actually, you can, thanks to Yahoo’s domain targeting capabilities across display and native. This has quickly become one of my (and my clients’) favorite tactics to test. And it doesn’t stop at competitors. You could build a list of all the domains you want to target in general, including everything from a publication you know your audience readily subscribes to, to the top stores you know they also shop at and index highly against.

2.      Weather targeting

This truly takes advantage of real-time messaging and allows you to deliver ads based on current weather conditions, like humidity, wind speed, and temperature. Weather conditions can also be predicted in advance. You could serve up an ad for snow tires, allergy medication, rain boots, a vacation, or solar panels (the list goes on) when it’s most relevant, top of mind, and necessary for consumers. Some display vendors are enabled to dynamically pull the actual temperature into the ad, an extra bonus for those extreme weather-triggered products (air conditioning, winter jackets – again, the list goes on).

3.      Email open retargeting

Let’s say you have a robust email program, either to prospects or existing customers or both. That’s great! Now, we can re-engage those users while they’re surfing the web with a display ad. This keeps brands top of mind even if they’re already on an email list, and it’s a great opportunity for retention and upsells or cross-sells. A pixel is placed to fire upon email opens, after which we can target that audience with display ads across the internet.

4.      Search retargeting

This targeting tactic allows brands to expand on keyword searches taking place outside the major search engines. It’s based on searches performed on secondary search sites, such as shopping comparison or entertainment/lifestyle sites. This allows us to reach users who are pre-qualified and valuable, and ones whom we know have intent or are in-market for something. Similar to the other tactics listed here and to the display channel in general, this data is used to target banners to the audience we want to reach across the web, no matter the specific site they are on.

5.      Dynamic prospecting banners

This isn’t so much a targeting tactic as a unique way to use dynamic creative. You’ve probably heard of or experienced dynamic retargeting (it’s hard not to). It’s those banners that show the exact product you were just looking at as soon as you leave a specific advertiser’s site. This takes the same idea of dynamically pulling specific products into a banner, but uses it for prospecting, which opens up the audience to users who have never even been to your site. The dynamic images featured in the banner can vary, from recommending products from a new line you want to push, to a seasonal sale, to top sellers. Dynamic creative typically has higher engagement and has proved to drive higher ROAS compared to static banners in a few cases, warranting more budget and an opportunity to scale.

6.      Purchase behavior/intent

Remember that saying, “You are what you eat”? In the online retail world, it’s more “You are what you buy.” Purchase behavior and intent are some of the most valuable data points used in targeting, and have consistently proved to drive positive ROI for clients. If we know someone has spent thousands of dollars on a specific product or service this year, we know they’re a valuable prospect and want to expose them to an ad. Using data from a variety of vendors, we can target based on past purchases made, as well as those in-market for certain products or services based on online behavior. This data becomes even more relevant during the holiday season for a lot of clients.

7.      Travel data

Using travel data is key for the obvious advertisers – hotels, airlines, car rental companies, etc. One of my previous clients was a major theme park and resort in Florida, and we would target users who had booked a flight to Orlando but hadn’t booked accommodations yet. However, this data can be used in multiple other verticals as travelers represent a valuable audience in general – one that is typically more affluent and educated. Targeting options include those booking first class, those staying in 5-star hotels, those traveling internationally, business travelers, and those originating or ending at specific destinations.

8.      Linear video targeting

Running TV spots? Or want to target people when they’re watching specific shows live? It’s possible to reach people who saw your commercial on TV, or are watching certain shows, with a display or video ad online (on desktop, mobile or tablet) in real time. Since more and more people are using other devices while they’re watching TV, this type of targeting is becoming more valuable, allowing advertisers to reinforce messaging across devices.

9.      Career vertical

Earlier this year, LinkedIn announced the ability to purchase their ad inventory programmatically through a private marketplace buy. This option is great in the B2B space, where you can target users based on their job and company size. You can even layer on your own data, such as a CRM list or pixel-based retargeting audience, and reach those users on LinkedIn. LinkedIn isn’t the only way to do this – most DSPs and display vendors offer data options to reach specific types of professionals as well.

10. Address/IP matching

Say you have a specific list of postal addresses, representing people you want to reach online. This could be a direct mail list, or a list of prospective companies or people (just a few ideas – all hotels in a specific area, Fortune 100 companies or employees, an entire college campus, new movers, etc.). You can then upload this list and match it to IP addresses, enabling you to reach those specific users from the physical address list but in an online environment without cookies or email addresses. This is especially applicable in certain verticals, such as politics, banking/financial, and for B2B advertisers.

11. Trending content

Similar to weather targeting, this targeting tactic allows advertisers to target based on real-time events that matter to your target audience. Billions of data points, including conversations and engagements happening on news sources, websites, and social networks, are used to determine what topics are trending for specific audiences, and activate and align relevant ads against them.
The options for targeting in display are almost endless, which is why it’s such an exciting channel to work in! Do you have another favorite targeting method you’ve seen success with? Let us know with a comment below!

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