by Angela Jones

Though behav­ioral tar­get­ing isn’t new, it is only in the last few years that advances in track­ing tech­nol­o­gy have giv­en adver­tis­ing plat­forms like Google AdWords the abil­i­ty to offer impact­ful behav­ioral tar­get­ing options to adver­tis­ers.  Arguably, the largest of these has been the intro­duc­tion of retar­get­ing, also known as “remar­ket­ing”.  Retar­get­ing, in its most basic form, is defined as the prac­tice of dis­play­ing ads to users who have already vis­it­ed a web­site in hopes of bring­ing them back to take addi­tion­al action on the site. Though retar­get­ing has become an estab­lished form of behav­ioral tar­get­ing, it is only in the last few months that every­day media man­agers like myself are see­ing the true poten­tial of behav­ioral tar­get­ing.

* A Bet­ter Retar­get­ing Tag*

Google uses a snip­pet of code that is embed­ded onto cho­sen pages of a site to track vis­i­tors for a retar­get­ing audi­ence. In the not-so-dis­tant past, tar­get­ing could only be refined by using mul­ti­ple tags to allow for cus­tomized lists.  In oth­er words, every time we want­ed to tar­get ads to an audi­ence that had tak­en a select action such as “aban­doned shop­ping cart” we were required to cre­ate and embed a new code to the site.  In prac­tice, this lim­i­ta­tion ham­pered sophis­ti­cat­ed retar­get­ing efforts.  How­ev­er, a few months ago Google gave us the option to cre­ate list-defined rules based on page URLs. Now, if we want to tar­get vis­i­tors that aban­doned a shop­ping cart, we only have to spec­i­fy that the URL should con­tain a unique iden­ti­fi­er from a page URL with­in the check­out process but not con­tain a unique iden­ti­fi­er from the con­fir­ma­tion page URL such as “/thankyou”.  Voila! Now we only need one retar­get­ing tag across all pages of the site to eas­i­ly cre­ate sev­er­al lists direct­ly with­in AdWords.

*Retar­get­ing Made Eas­i­er with Google Ana­lyt­ics

What bet­ter way to seg­ment audi­ences than by using data you’re already col­lect­ing in Google Ana­lyt­ics?  We now have the abil­i­ty to cre­ate audi­ence lists direct­ly with­in Google Ana­lyt­ics and send those lists to AdWords to run tar­get­ed ads. So now instead of just tar­get­ing a user that did or didn’t vis­it a spe­cif­ic page, we can refine audi­ences even fur­ther using Google Ana­lyt­ics met­rics such as vis­it dura­tion, num­ber of pages viewed, bounce rate, and even ROI dri­ven data such as pur­chas­es made.  We can then run dis­play ads that are tar­get­ed for each par­tic­u­lar audi­ence using the data we’ve been col­lect­ing all along.

YouTube Video Retar­get­ing

Many of our clients have plen­ty of video assets housed with­in their com­pa­ny YouTube chan­nel.  Users that have inter­act­ed with these videos have often already researched and are edu­cat­ed about the prod­uct or ser­vice offered.  In many cas­es, they poten­tial­ly rep­re­sent an even high­er lead qual­i­ty than users that have reached the site via tra­di­tion­al search. AdWords now makes it easy to to tar­get YouTube chan­nel view­ers that have inter­act­ed with (liked, dis­liked, com­ment­ed, etc.) or viewed YouTube videos as well as sub­scribed to, or unsub­scribed from a chan­nel.  We can dis­play not only addi­tion­al videos to these users, but also stan­dard text and image ads on YouTube and oth­er part­ner sites on the Google Dis­play Net­work.

Sim­i­lar Audi­ences

Sim­i­lar Audi­ences takes retar­get­ing to the next lev­el.  While retar­get­ing focus­es on audi­ences that have already vis­it­ed a site, Sim­i­lar Audi­ences cap­tures poten­tial cus­tomers that haven’t yet vis­it­ed a site but have sim­i­lar brows­ing behav­ior to your retar­get­ing audi­ence. This allows for a much larg­er pool of new cus­tomers than retar­get­ing can alone. These lists are formed from aggre­gat­ed lists of 100 or more cook­ies brows­ing over the last 30 days.

Though we have only hit the tip of the ice­berg, we can now refine and expand our cur­rent audi­ences as well as cap­ture new ones via sophis­ti­cat­ed audi­ence seg­men­ta­tion with more ease than ever before. Past behav­ior pre­dicts future behav­ior bet­ter than geog­ra­phy, demo­graph­ics or con­tex­tu­al tar­get­ing can do on their own. With all of the lat­est advances made with­in AdWords alone, we’re excit­ed to watch the future of behav­ioral adver­tis­ing unfold.