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How can targeted advertising help your business? Part 1/2

01 July 2014


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I’m sure that many of you will be aware of targeted advertising to some degree. What you may not know, however, is how exactly targeted advertising works and how you can use it to advance your own business. In this article I hope to investigate that.


As we browse the Web, our activity is tracked and monitored behind the scenes. Activity such as sites visited and length of visit are also monitored, and this information is then passed through a database in order to create an online behavioural pattern for all of us. This behavioural pattern is very useful, as it allows us to target users precisely within our target markets. Despite the fact that this practice has been commonplace for many years, it is still viewed as controversial by some who view it as an invasion of privacy. However you feel about targeted advertising, you can’t deny that it is a part of our online lives now. This type of advertising is not only limited to an online format, but has also begun to be rolled out by Sky TV on a new platform called AdSmart. The system works by using your postcode and other data from Experian to deliver personalised ads to you during live broadcasts, in place of the standard ads seen by the rest of the nation. Seemingly, this is an attempt by Sky to keep a hold on the targeted advertising market, where Google and other websites have been so successful.


Targeted advertising has grown in popularity and usage as social media has become more ubiquitous. Both Facebook and Google have their own advertising systems, which are capable of delivering highly personalised ads. Facebook, for example, can gather information about its users from their profiles, which it then compiles on a database called the Facebook Open Graph. You as a business can use information from the Open Graph in order to target ads to different groups based on a series of data points, such as personal interests, education and even relationship status. By using this system, you can increase the likelihood that potential customers will click on your ads, as they will be directly relevant to the person viewing them. Google has a very similar system known as ‘Google Ads’, which pulls information from your recent search history in order to determine which ads you would be likely to respond to. ‘Google Ads’ are extremely widespread; you could visit almost any webpage and have a good chance of discovering one or two.


So why is this important? First of all, the benefits of targeted advertising cannot be doubted. Several studies have been carried out over the years investigating them, such as a 2009 study by the Network Advertising Initiative, which concluded that targeted ads were twice as likely to convert those who clicked on the ads into buyers than regular ads. The problem of conversion is key for many businesses, and so any method which resolves this should be seriously considered. Both Google and Facebook ads are now extremely popular, which should be proof enough of their effectiveness. In general, social media is an excellent way to interact with consumers, and using social media to create personalised, user – targeted ads is simply an extension of this.

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