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.