Targeting Your Ad Message to Your Audience

Gerard Tollefsen - November 12, 2010

One of the basic best practices in online marketing is to ensure that your ad copy matches your target audience.  In the most obvious of cases, you wouldn’t want your sneakers ads being displayed for search terms related to computers.  One of the benefits of Pay-per-Click (PPC) marketing is that you can write ads which speak directly to the people who are searching for your type of product or service.  However, when creating a banner campaign, your main goal may be to build brand awareness regardless of where the target audience may be online.  Even in this situation, you need to make sure there is a strong connection between the audience viewing your banner ad and the message within that ad.

I was recently online reading an article about U.S. automakers and the gains they have made in generating interest among young, first time car buyers.  Being in the marketing industry, I always get drawn to the advertising on the page to see what other companies are doing to market their business.  I was drawn to a banner ad from large, well known national bank and immediately thought I was seeing a remarketing ad since I am a customer of this bank and visit their site frequently.  While it is not uncommon to see this type of advertising, I was surprised to see that the ad was in Spanish.  Living in South Florida, it is common to see billboards or the occasional local cable TV commercial targeting Spanish speakers.  But with the targeting options available to online marketers, I should not have been served this ad.  Just like you wouldn’t want a sneaker ad displayed when someone is searching for computers, you shouldn’t serve a Spanish written ad to a person who cannot speak that language.

When setting up a Google AdWords campaign, regardless of the type of campaign (search, banner/display network, or remarketing campaign), you have the option to target by language.  In the “Settings” tab under any campaign you can drill down to not just a geographic location, but also select which language you want to target.  Google even provides a “help bubble” that explains the language targeting option and how it works.  Specifically it states, “When determining where to show your ads, the AdWords system looks at a user’s Google interface language setting to see if it matches one of the languages that your campaign targets. For example, only users whose Google interface language is Spanish will see ads in a campaign targeted to Spanish.”  Obviously, this targeting option was not used properly in the aforementioned bank’s banner ad campaign.  The result of this oversight leads to a Spanish written ad being delivered to someone who cannot speak or read Spanish.  No matter how compelling the offer may have been, it was not targeted to me properly, I couldn’t understand it and therefore would never have clicked on it.  The campaign is wasting impressions and the overall effectiveness of that ad copy is nullified by poor targeting.

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