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Do you remember the traditional TV ads? Or your favorite ad jingle as a child? Yes, we loved humming to ad jingles (Well, we still do!). How often did you notice a product and recalled it’s ad jingle? Did it persuade you to purchase the product? And if you did, do you think the people who made the particular advertisement knew the catalyst which drove you to buy their product? Do you think the ad was made keeping “you” in mind? Well, they probably had an idea about what would work for them, considering their brand, but they certainly didn’t have a particular set for audience targeting.

You cannot measure results from a traditional marketing campaign, which gave birth to – Performance Marketing. Measuring your performance. Analyzing the performance to deliver better the next time. Now that we could measure the amount we made corresponding to the amount we spent, we still wouldn’t want to spend callously, would we? Definitely not! What is our mantra as entrepreneurs? “Minimize the spends”! Right – achieve better performance. There are several steps you could take to minimize your spends – choosing the right platform, use tested creatives, right call to action, audience targeting, delivering a message which resonates with your audience, etc. But the area we want to talk about in this article is – audience targeting.

Audience Targeting by Behavior

Ads based on event and occasion
Ads based on event and occasion

Did you launch a relatively expensive product? Who do you think would be interested in purchasing? Yes, people who usually buy products from the higher end of the spectrum. For instance, if Carol usually purchases Zara products, it is more likely that she’d be interested in Marks and Spencer products as well!

How does a user interact with your product’s platform? How often does he come back? If he re-installed your app, what was the primary use case which led him to do so? What type of products does the user click on? User behavior (on your platform, social media or physical store), personality, lifestyle choices, opinions – are some of the different types of audience targeting you can choose. Facebook provides additional targeting options such as relationship status, job title, household income, household size, lifestyle, online purchase behavior, etc.

You might also want to try targeting people based on their opinion on particular topics. For instance, if you have a holiday campaign, you might want to illustrate the importance of family, friends and loved ones. Hence, it makes sense to consider reaching people who are concerned about their family and loved ones. If you have an audiobook, consider people who commute long hours. Look at all the user engagement and retention metrics to clearly define the “behavior” of audience you wish to target.

ALWAYS #LikeAGirl needs no introduction. At puberty, 49% of girls feel apprehensive about trying new things. The campaign worked towards empowering young girls to tackle this fear. Not only was the campaign a huge success but also taught people to break stereotypes.

Girls Breaking Stereotype
Girls Breaking Stereotypes

Audience Targeting by Interest

Now that we have behavioral aspects covered, what else could we look at? Consider this: you are planning your shopping list for an upcoming trip. You notice you need to buy a new pair of boots. You’re probably going to the hills! Well, do you just need a pair of boots? You would also want a windcheater, beanie, winter cosmetics, etc. Hence, if you are a retailer who’s launching a campaign to sell boots online, you’d consider people who are also interested in “similar products“.

Connect the dots? Define your audience, which will then define your purpose – a problem you are solving. The boots you are selling will keep people warm. What else keeps people warm? What else do people do in winters? Answer all these questions to obtain segments of users you’d like to target. Of course, we work on probability and can just predict the likelihood of a decision succeeding but you gotta A/B test all your decisions to identify what will exactly work for your brand.

Intent-based Targeting

Are you wondering if we missed out the most obvious way for audience targeting? We want to talk about just that! Yes, custom intent.

If I pull up your browsing history (omitting the embarrassing searches, of course 😉 ) and notice you searched for “baking cakes”, I would immediately know that you’re interested in baking. Next time I meet Alice, who bakes delicious cakes, I will definitely talk about you or at the very least, connect you two. The same goes for audience targeting as well.

Consider “custom intent” and explore users’ interests. Targeting people who search for products/services related to you would not only define a primary user persona but also generate fresh ideas to improvise your product/service.

Demographic Targeting

Once you define a set of user personas, use their attributes to target marketing activities. A product might appeal to a particular age group, location, ethnicity, operating device, date or month, time of the day etc. For example, it makes more sense to target a relatively expensive product to users who operate an iPhone and stay in the upper side of a metropolitan. Recommend winter wear when you notice a change in user’s location, to a colder place.

Use geographic location and demographic profile attributes such as age, gender, household income to identify users who’d be interested in your product.

Using location and geographical conditions, Forever 21 shows relevant ads.

Forever 21 using demographic targeting
Forever 21 using demographic targeting

Charles and Keith adopts location targeting in their native targeting.

Charles and Keith using demographic targeting to personalize their homepage
Charles and Keith using demographic targeting to personalize their homepage

Targeting based on Life Events

You might also want to consider correlated events and interests. How does your product/service affect the personal and professional lives of people? What is the state of mind for most of your users?

Life events can be drilled down to users preparing for a life event or immediately after the event. For example, students about to graduate would be suitable for a job search service as well as people who recently moved to a new city. Important life events to study while selecting your audience can be – graduation, marriage, and moving. Apparel advertisers may find “newly graduated” students have an increased demand in “formal wear” whereas people who are “recently engaged” have an inclination towards “bridal wear”. Similarly, a beauty product would capture the attention of recently engaged users. Study your user persona to identify which aspect of their lives does your product impact.


We spoke about the different attributes you can consider while choosing a target audience but what about your existing customers and website visitors? These are the users who have already touch-based with your product. They know you exist and probably have a brand recall as well. Your next plan of action? Connect again and again with them to reinforce your brand. Not only will it improve their top of mind awareness, but also move them to the “consideration phase”. Targeting existing customers also gives you an added advantage. Since they have made transactions with you, there is a level of trust, which you can leverage.

Show a premium product ad to the customer who got an alternative. Cross promote your products. Exhibit new beauty products to customers who purchased clothes from you earlier.

Chumbak sets forth a fantastic example of remarketing done right. The following remarketing email targets past offline customers to promote products in the travel category.

Chumbak Remarketing Email
Chumbak Remarketing Email

We’ve come a long way from simply displaying a generic textual advertisement to an unspecified set of people. In today’s fast-paced world, efficiency is not a luxury but necessity. Consumers want to be reached out to, heard and targeted. They want customized content, offers, quick and smart load, and a no effort transaction. It is our job, as product and marketing guys to deliver it. While we continue to strive towards efficiency with audience targeting, it is just a step in the right direction, coupled with native ads, efficient creatives, story-telling, and high-quality ads.

If you’d like to contribute or want us to help your business, write to us at [email protected]

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