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Defining A Programmatic Advertising Audience

Segmented audience


One of the most unique and intriguing things about programmatic media is also that which makes it so effective: the ability to create a custom audience. With programmatic advertising, digital marketers have the ability to build out a campaign that is uniquely designed to reach their target audience. Likened to artisan woodworker crafting a one-of-a-kind piece. But how is this done? How do we curate an audience that will be receptive to our marketing message? 


It all starts with tactics. Tactics are the parameters put in place to create an audience for programmatic advertising. I’ll be covering four tactics today: 



Demography is one of the biggest indicators of consumer behavior. It’s quite amazing actually, the journey we all go through in which our interests (and therefore our purchasing decisions) transition from one era of our lives to the next. You go from budgeting your weekly allowance to negotiating your first purchase of a car, and then the next thing you know you’re looking at mortgage rates and mutual fund yields. Simply put, what we shop for changes as we age, and there is a difference in the purchasing behavior of men and women. As marketers, we can identify these differences in the context of our clients’ businesses and leverage them in the digital space. Independent of age and gender is income, another aspect of demography. With programmatic media, we can target audiences by household income, giving us another level of specificity in our approach. 

Defining the target demographic for a business gives us the foundation of an audience, upon which the rest of the campaign is built. 


Interests / Behaviors 

Being able to target by demographics is nothing new. Cable companies figured that out years ago when they realized different groups of people had different viewing habits and you could reach men by putting commercials on ESPN and you could reach women by putting commercials on the Food Network. Where programmatic media takes a leap is with interest and behavioral targeting tactics. 


In simple terms, the content that users search for and engage with discerns their interests. With programmatic media, we can select certain interests and target users with which those parameters match up. The most straightforward approach is to simply target people who are interested in your products or services. While this is a viable option if the offering is widely sought after or something that many people use (ex: household items). But what if your product or service is more niche? What if you are a corporate consultant? There is an extremely limited number of individuals interacting with content about corporate consulting at any given time. However, there are a set of behaviors that differentiate C-Suite executives from other individuals. With programmatic media, we can leverage these differences and target that audience with a crafted message around the value of consulting services. The goal being that there is a basic association between the brand and consultation so that when that CEO finally sits down and searches for a firm to help them figure out whatever business problem they are facing, they search for the advertiser. 

With behavioral targeting, we have the ability to further narrow down a demographic audience by introducing things like affinity and lifestyle into the mix. From there, we test different targets within that framework and optimize over time. 

The next two tactics operate independently of demographics and interest targeting but are equally as powerful. 



Geofencing is a marketing term that gets thrown around a lot. It’s one of those terms that can take on a different meaning depending on who you’re talking to. Geofencing is simply targeting users by geographic location. Programmatic advertising offers us the ability to geographically target essentially any campaign we set up. This is essentially geofencing. Geofencing has other applications, however, and can be more specific than general areas such as DMAs or metro areas. We can target users within an area the size of a parking spot. But how is that used?


Let’s say you have a competitor 5 miles down the road. Your customers typically shop around and will visit you along with your competitor before making a decision. With a static geofence around that competitor’s location, we can target users who visit that location. 


Imagine your run a camera repair business, and there just so happens to be a photography event that will attract a large number of photographers to one place at a certain time. Using geofencing technology, we can geofence the space the event is taking place and only target users who were within that space during a certain time (when the event occurs).


You can also target users by how often and for how long they are within a specific geographic area. 


A senior care facility I was working with was having a problem recruiting nurses and desperately needed to expand their staff. We deployed a geofence around other senior care facilities and local hospitals. After that, we set parameters around the amount of time spent within the geofences, and how often those users entered them. We only targeted users who visited the geofence more than three times per week, for more than four hours at a time. This effectively eliminated transient visitors such as people seeing their family members, and allowed us to specifically target the staff of these different facilities. We crafted some beautiful ads that featured their signing bonus and spun up the campaign. 


They had a full nursing staff after two and a half months. 


Retargeting /  Remarketing 

Retargeting is probably the most straightforward of the tactics we commonly use. This is where we target users who have previously been on your website.


How retargeting works is a topic for another blog. Basically, when a user is on your website, a piece of code on that website can be used to allow our advertising platforms to discern those users in the future. When those users visit a site that serves programmatic ads, our platforms see that marker and know to get your ad in front of that user. 

This allows us to show ads to an audience that we know has previously engaged with the brand.

Making sense of these different tactics is challenging, but it’s a challenge we must welcome as digital marketers so that we can help businesses use them to meet their goals. Are you using these methods as part of your digital strategy yet? If not, Corkboard Concepts can help!

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