Ever since the birth of commerce, advertising has become one of most important tools for all businesses. And while traditional TV and hoarding advertising worked because there was no alternative, the age of internet has opened up many avenues for advertising. It is now possible to know which consumer is watching what type of videos, what they are buying, what they are searching for, what they have kept on their wish list and so on.
And that is the reason behind the birth of targeted advertising. The reasoning is simple. If you are selling light bulbs for lamps, target those customers who are buying lamp shades. While the idea sounds simple, there is a lot of research and coding that needs to go in before targeted advertising can be achieved.
The first step is to know your product/service inside out. You need to know what are the similar products, how your product can fit in with another product, what age group would need your product and so on. Only when you have this data with you that you can actually pick the consumers to target with your advertising.
The next step is to actually get the information about what the consumer is doing on the internet. And this actually is easier than it sounds because anything and everything that a normal person does on the internet is actually public information. What most of us are not aware of is that every time we go on the web, each page creates a file called a cookie. A cookie is basically a code that tells advertisers and programmers what the person was doing on the net or in the case of targeted advertising, what he/she was looking for.
So now that the advertisers have their product information on one hand and the consumer information on the other, they just need to build a bridge which will display their product ad on the screen of the consumer most likely to be interested in it.
This is where the programmers come in. They create the codes based on certain parameters like keywords, product uses, demography, gender, search queries, age group, location and others. Once this code is in place, whenever a consumer who matches these parameters comes online, a targeted ad is displayed on their devices.
Let’s make it clearer with an example. Suppose a company is making trekking boots. They know that their consumers will mostly be young, urban people who have a liking for adventure activities. So, they create a code that sees to it that whenever a person who matches this profile comes online, their ad should be displayed. Then, suppose I go and book a camping holiday on the internet. Immediately, a cookie is created which contains information about me and my interest. When I go online next, this cookie tells the advertiser/programmer that I match their criteria and presto! The ad for the trekking boots will be displayed on my screen. That is essentially what targeted advertising is.
And if alarm bells are ringing in your head, unfortunately that is what the internet is. Anything you do is public, unless you take steps such as disabling cookies to prevent your information being accessed by others.
But form the point of view of advertising alone, this is a great option to have. There is no longer a need to just throw an ad out into the public and hope that it reaches the desired audience. You can now choose your audience, and make sure that your ad goes right to them!