Targeting

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Get Your Competitor’s Facebook Ads, Straight To Your Inbox

If you’re like most marketers, you often wonder what your competition is promoting on Facebook in an attempt to adjust your own strategy. By combining Facebook’s Ad Library and some clever automation, PixelMe released a way to be notified of your competitor’s latest marketing with an alert sent straight to your inbox. 

The introduction of the free service, called AdInboxMe, makes tracking your enemy’s ads easier than ever. The process is simple, marketers create an online account and enter Facebook page URLs they’d like to track. AdInboxMe will then send alerts with the launch of new Facebook ads for the corresponding brands with the link to the promotion details. That’s it! You get up-to-date information delivered without any extra searching.

Although only recently launched, the company has seen overwhelming excitement around the service and is currently on a waitlist. However, interested marketers can complete a form to reserve their spot. As PixelMe evaluates performance and interest, they are also considering offering a similar feature for Google Ads and Linkedin.  

While the process seems simple, the tool’s time-saving ability may prove invaluable. The waitlist isn’t getting any shorter so hop over and save your spot.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/new-tool-provides-email-alerts-whenever-your-competitors-launch-a-facebook/559669/

Spotify Hears Advertiser’s Requests

Spotify has been expanding its targeting capabilities on its self-serve advertising platform to help marketers better reach their desired audiences. In response to recent reports that show a 25% increase in brand awareness with use of the platform, advertisers are looking for ways to leverage the streaming service to strategically market to audiences.  

The new targeting options include interest targeting and real-time context targeting, available to reach Spotify Free users. Interest targeting analyzes users’ data through playlist and podcast preferences to identify related targeting categories for a more granular reach. Real-time context targeting allows advertisers to reach listeners when they are streaming at specific times of the day as they relate to activities identified by account use. Options include working out, studying, dinner time, etc. for delivery of a more personalized experience. The additions come just a month after the introduction of podcast-based targeting, which allows brands to market to listeners based on podcast content categories.

Spotify’s continued focus on expanding targeting capabilities comes as advertisers are looking for additional ways to reach the ad-supported service available free to users. The expansion of opportunity also helps the company better monetize the growing free user base. 

https://www.adweek.com/digital/spotify-ad-studio-now-offers-interest-targeting-real-time-context-targeting/

Netflix Accesses Physical Activity For Streaming Improvements

Netflix is taking its streaming capabilities one step further. The app has been discretely tracking customers’ physical activity to evaluate the need for increased video buffering for viewers on the go. The relatively innovative concept is an attempt to provide higher quality streaming for those in motion without any extra steps from the user. 

The initial tests were run with Android app users to collect and evaluate data that would aid in the improvement of the viewing experience. The testing considered not only daily physical activity such as walking or running, but also outside factors like commuting via mass transit which could impact the strength of signal. Lower quality service during such times could result in frustrated users who then abandon their streaming during those times.  

While the company seems to have concluded testing, users are apprehensive about how the data collection was handled. The permissions were automatically activated and could only be disabled manually if customers happened to notice. The lack of required consent makes some have increased privacy concerns about other tracking pushed without their knowledge. 

Although now publicly addressed, the company has yet to elaborate on next steps in response to the results. Netflix has also neglected to respond to requests on if or when the physical activity recognition tracking will now be disabled.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/1/20750424/netflix-physical-activity-tracker-data-stream-quality-test

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Macy’s Pins Its Summer Market

Macy’s is making a splash this summer by combining augmented reality and Pinterest Pincodes to creatively connect users to their products. With soaring growth in e-commerce and mobile, the company hopes to capitalize on its most engaged shoppers while creating a fun social experience centered around summertime activities.  

The campaign will link Pinterest Pincodes, accessible at popular summer hot spots, such as beaches, lakes and parks, with a pinterest board highlighting items from Macy’s summer catalog specific curated to the location. The boards are then shoppable, allowing for an effortless buying experience. The campaign will also feature stories on various social platforms to highlight summer’s best moments.  

With department store catalogs a thing of the past, this is a new spin to bring personalized styles right to user’s mobile devices. It also allows for authentic experiences with the company being shared socially, further propelling the campaign organically.

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/macys-summer-campaign-heads-outside-with-pinterest-pincodes/555124/

Twitter Toys Around With Updated Carousel Ads

Twitter is testing a reformatted version of carousel ads to boost app install and re-engagement campaigns for advertisers. In 2016, Twitter tested a version where several tweets could be used in a series, but had little popularity and was eventually discontinued. The revised format allows for multiple, swipeable images in a single ad unit which can be used for showcasing a series of products or using in a series to convey a story, tapping into the user’s emotions.

As other platforms such as Facebook have proven, the carousel ad is very visually appealing and engaging for users, thus increasing campaign performance for advertisers. In many cases, it also results in significant decreases in cost per conversion, upward of 30-50%.  As Twitter works to entice advertisers with its innovative ad units, it remains uncertain if the carousel ad will be heavily utilized by advertisers or well received by users.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/twitters-testing-a-new-carousel-ad-format-for-app-install-campaigns/555064/

YouTube’s Bumper Machine Uses AI to Automate 6-Second Video Creation

In an effort to minimize mobile viewing interruptions, YouTube released a new tool for advertisers that transforms their current video ads into “bumper” six-second video format.  With the help of artificial intelligence, “Bumper Machine” condenses videos by identifying elements such as human characters, motions, branding and quality of focus and framing to consolidate the messaging in the shorter format, concluding with the final call-to-action in the last few seconds. The limited time frame makes it more imperative that messages are visually appealing and easily consumed for viewers. Marketers that use the tool are not limited to the first result but instead, it’s meant to be a process allowing for human review to create the final product.

With mobile ad spend growing exponentially and accounting for 65% of all digital ad spend, the Bumper Machine tool will help advertisers tap into that market in a new way.  While some will simply condense current longer-form ads, others may use the tool to create short teasers for a longer ad or create a series of bumper ads that can tie together. The addition of the free tool is yet another way YouTube is continuing to evolve to accommodate the market.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/13/youtube-bumper-machine/

What Facebook's Targeting Option Elimination Means for Ad Campaigns

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 Recently, Facebook announced it was removing more than 5,000 options for ad targeting in an effort to protect users from discriminatory advertising. Paired with Facebook's spring announcement about the changes in custom audiences, this development has some advertisers worried about the implications for campaigns and reaching consumers.

A Change in Strategy

Once a powerful ad targeting feature, its removal deals a mighty blow to business owners and marketers. Third-party data providers are no longer a viable source, and advertisers don't have the luxury of creating ad targeting based on user data (previously captured both on and off Facebook's platform).

Will this affect audience targeting and social media strategies? The exclusions aren't the end of the platform's ad wars. Fortunately, there are strategies you can still use to reach your target market with Facebook advertising.

Geo-Targeted Advertising

Facebook ads give advertisers the flexibility to target people based on specific location, providing a way to create ads relevant to where an audience is located. Geo-targeting lets you customize and refine options to target an audience most likely to take an interest in your business as well.

Custom Audiences

Here's what geo-targeting does:

●      Engagement: It drives users closer to conversion and targets those who have engaged with your brand. A custom audience is easily created from people who have watched a specific video, for instance. 

Interaction through a social media profile, event, or web page is a good opportunity to nudge people further into the sales funnel. There's no better way to assemble highly targeted individuals than to select those who have already shown interest. 

●      Contact lists: Got a customer list or site data collected via subscriptions from your site? Leverage this data and expand the reach by uploading lists directly into Facebook. Then serve ads to people you know on the platform. If you're working with a smaller custom audience, you can always test the creative methods used to determine which one gets the best response from audiences. Increasing CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bids is yet another alternative to better reach your custom audience.

●      Websites: If you're unfamiliar with Facebook Pixel, now's the time to get acquainted. A snippet of code installed on your website helps to optimize ads based on collected data, create targeted ads for future use, track ad conversions, and remarket to people who've taken some form of action on your site.

Take it one step further with the implementation of a lookalike audience from the same data. This way you can prospect for new customers who match the behaviors of your website visitors in specific geographic areas.

Targeted Interests

Facebook still collects data based on what users interact with while on the platform. The information is segmented according to a user's interests. Since the categories are built on real-time user behavior, using this feature is a good place to start. 

Alternative Advertising Methods

Think the use of third-party data is exclusive to Facebook? Internet giants such as Google use data and targeting options on their own terms. Currently there are no defined regulations regarding the transparency of information collected by third-party providers. Until this changes, advertisers have the green light to access information on other platforms, too.

For example, if annual income plays a major role in your targeting strategy, sites such as Bing or LinkedIn could be beneficial because users on these sites tend to be from high income brackets.

Google Adwords is another can't-miss opportunity. It remains a leader in advertising, and its targeting approaches could help fill the gap caused by Facebook's third-party data removal.

DIY First-Party Data Collection

Most small businesses may not have extensive customer data, so the impact of Facebook's change will probably be felt a lot harder. Facebook once offered avenues to target customers using specific data without collecting it independently. Now, spending more time and effort is necessary for business owners who want to enrich their first-party data stockpiles.

It's just a matter of boosting creativity as a workaround to:

●      Set up landing pages to collect contact information.

●      Beef up email marketing campaigns by running surveys.

●      Engage more with social followers.

In other words, consider going back to the basics. 

What was your strategy before Facebook existed? What if you used an advanced form of interest-based targeting? Brainstorm ideas on how to implement "friends of" segmenting for a change of pace in strategy.

What about retargeting? This is one way to achieve higher conversion rates, and is usually far more successful than demographic-based advertising.

Facebook ad targeting options are changing the landscape of all things digital marketing. Despite this most recent setback, Facebook is still in the business of keeping advertisers happy, so don't lose hope. Meanwhile, make the right adjustments to stay on top of your marketing game.

Programmatic Advertising Effectively Identifies Your Audience — Here's How

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More than 80 percent of all digital display ads in the U.S. will be purchased this year through automated channels, according to eMarketer. One area that’s exploding with ad spending in this direction is on programmatic advertising.

Programmatic ads are automated using audience data and technology to achieve the right marketing to the right person, at the right time, in a relevant context. Marketers are expected to spend over $46 billion in 2018 on digital display ads and video display ads on the web, mobile phones, and tablets, across hundreds of sites.

When conceived and programmed correctly, programmatic advertising ensures that key target audiences are being properly identified, and are being shown helpful, informative, relevant and timely content. This can have a meaningful impact on a brand that’s doing programmatic right. Done poorly, and it can have the reverse effect.

Benefits of Programmatic

Programmatic ads are powerful in helping SMB advertisers with their branding efforts. Having a focused ad targeting strategy can help small and medium-sized businesses in keeping their budgets in line and can be very effective in engagement and conversions down the line with target audiences.

Another benefit to programmatic ads is the opportunity for marketers to develop real-time audience insights that can be immediately impactful. Having these insights can help bolster future campaigns, increase optimizations and the develop future strategies.

Customize your Message

Programmatic makes it easier for advertisers to find desired target audiences across the internet, wherever those audiences are located. For example, a consumer may have visited a local car dealership online, and location data may show a pattern of other dealership visits. Programmatic will assume the consumer is in the market for a new or used car and may set up ad opportunities for that purpose. This targeting is managed anonymously, without marketers learning any identity information about the potential car buyer.

Identifying Audiences

Programmatic advertising technology works best for identifying niche audiences. For example, a surfing equipment and supplies website found that programmatic advertising showed that its top visitors were young adult males (aged 20-35) who live in the North Pacific region, read the site during worktime lunch, and have been regular visitors. Armed with this data, an advertiser using programmatic technology would have definite ideas on who and where are these persons, what time of day they might be most receptive to relevant ads, and what type of content to show in the ads.

Mix up the approaches

Programmatic is best known for targeting audiences and driving conversions. But advertisers who are developing their branding can get experimental by trying different approaches. 

Advertisers could beta test a top-down approach by developing programmatic ads for the most engaged online users, perhaps those at the very top of online sites. They could also try to target their efforts to the most popular competitor sites that most people click to.

Conversely, advertisers might want to try a bottom-up approach, developing campaigns for small but dedicated audiences at certain sites, and building a sizeable budget to them. With this approach, niche clients might achieve higher CTRs than competitors in a similar industry.

To learn more about how to make programmatic advertising work for your local market or industry, look to the Interactive Advertising Bureau for a deep dive into programmatic advertising, discussing what's ahead, what challenges marketers face in making this type of ad work for them, and how the industry has to change in order to survive.

Leveraging Geotargeting Effectively for Business

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Where targets live, work, shop, and are willing to travel to obtain a particular product or service all play an important part in how advertisers market to them. That's why advertisers need to harness the benefits of geotargeting to create customized, well-targeted campaigns. Geotargeting has the potential to almost double the performance of digital marketing, whether that's via paid search or emails.

If more control over who sees your advertisements is important, geotargeting is a must-have marketing tool. Consider these best practices for successful, targeted campaigns.

Reap Location-Based Content Rewards

There are numerous advantages to implementing geotargeting to connect with customers and encourage conversations and conversions. Equipped with data like a user's IP address, advertisers can personalize content and campaigns for specific geographic regions, tweak deliveries, and track offline sales in a certain location. What better way to segment ads than to appeal to diverse markets simultaneously?

While geotargeting helps to deliver offers or content tailored to a user's location, it even increases email campaign efficiency. This is particularly useful when advertisers want to drive in more retail foot traffic, credit online sales to email marketing, and direct customers to dynamic landing pages specially designed for target locations.

Geotargeting also produces a way to reduce operating costs. If you've ever managed paid search or display ads, you know how crucial it is to cap the scope of an audience. This is easily achieved with geotargeting to limit irrelevant views and clicks and avoid excess budget expenditures.

Exclude Areas Where Targets Won't Be

Excluding locations are just as important as defining them. Whether narrowing the geographic playing field by venue, one side of a street, or by local events, an area that's not specifically being targeted can be excluded, too.

For example, nightclubs or sports bars looking to target college students may exclude an area during school breaks or summer months when students aren't likely to be in the area.

Further, exclusion is an advertiser's friend when a cost-effective method is key to avoiding costly ad rates in high-demand target areas. Some agencies have found low-priced, larger area ad campaigns achieve the same targeting goals when opting out of all areas except the desired target location.

Use Location-Specific Keywords for Paid Search

Consumers often narrow searches down to a specific name, city, or district. "Nail bars near Rodeo Drive," "Miami coffee shops," or "midtown eateries" are search terms consumers are likely to use, and provides just the location criteria advertisers can target. Tourist havens, famous street names, zip codes, and popular venues are just a few location terms to use when you want consumers to find you.

Analyze Target Behavior Based on Previously Visited Locations

Examining a target's location history provides a wealth of information including shopping habits, online frequency, and modes of transportation to bricks-and-mortar stores. The data provide greater opportunities to deliver relevant location-specific ads, whether the target is in an area of interest or not.

Set a Perimeter by Radius or Time Near Areas of Interest

You can set a perimeter, or geofence, to target certain streets or neighborhoods to deliver detailed, proximity-based campaigns and notifications. Unlike geotargeting, which determines location based on user’s IP address, geofencing uses GPS to get a read on specific locations.

For example, a coffee shop can set a three-mile perimeter around neighboring apartment complexes to reach users looking to grab a cup of joe before heading to work. A perimeter can also be defined by time. Advertisers can take advantage of platforms offering mapping applications that allow mobile apps and sites to search by time instead of distance.

Since geofencing uses different technologies, there are some limitations. Its GPS-based infrastructure creates the need for user authorization. So, if a device's location services feature is disabled, geo-targeted ads won't reach the device. However, most users are willing to share their location if they receive something of value in exchange.

Gather Location Data for Facebook Targeting

Capture data on where consumers are willing to travel, not just where they live, and use it for:

●      Anyone located in a selected location

●      Anyone who lives in a selected location

●      Anyone who was recently in a selected location

●      Anyone who's traveling to a selected location

Facebook is the ideal platform to accomplish this. Get your ads in front of the right audience or set up location ad targeting for specific addresses. You can even refine an audience to targets who live in, have recently visited, or are traveling in a particular area.

Geolocation is a powerful tool to help advertisers add context to campaigns. Leveraging the benefits of geotargeting along with careful use of customer information and integrating social media brings advertisers an increase in customer interaction, conversions, and successful campaigns.

What YouTube's Audience-Targeting Feature Means for Ads

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Digital disrupts everything. And when it comes to advertising, the steady tidal wave of change affecting how we watch television has really shaken things up. In fact, by the year 2019, experts estimate cord cutters will number over 19 million in the United States alone. While cable television might have reigned supreme in years gone by, consumers are more in control than ever before.

Our ever-evolving technology has created a new generation of connected viewers indulging in online media consumption, which includes watching content digitally. Video giant YouTube notes that users viewing content on connected televisions represent explosive growth in its audience, with an estimated 150 million hours of YouTube content streaming on television screens around the world.

Google's YouTube unit has a solid reputation of giving advertisers new ways to hone in on their target audiences. In 2018, the company announced a plan for advertisers to reach viewers watching YouTube on their televisions, as well as cord cutters and folks who just don't watch that much traditional television. Here are the essential things you should know about this new audience-targeting campaign.

Targeting Light TV Viewers

Do you watch most of your television online? If so, you might belong to YouTube's new audience segment for Google Adwords: "light TV viewers." This savvy move comes in the wake of a steady growth in digital video viewing, and gives advertisers additional flexibility to target their audiences more effectively. With this category, advertisers can choose the devices they want to target with their marketing efforts, including desktops and mobile devices.

AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager Targeting via TV Screens

This program gives advertisers their first-ever opportunity to target online television viewers. Advertisers can reach those watching YouTube on their connected televisions using DoubleClick Bid Manager and AdWords. These options already exist for advertisers who advertise using YouTube ads on computers, tablets, and mobile phones. With this new rollout, advertisers will be able to modify their content to make sure it's optimized for television viewing.

YouTube TV Ad Inventory Availability in Google Preferred 

In 2017, Google threw its hat into the virtual pay-television market with the launch of YouTube TV. When it launched, it provided subscribers with about 50 different live channels, and didn't include ads. That will change starting in 2018's fourth quarter as Google extends its Google Preferred ad program to many of the networks on YouTube TV. This is significant largely because Google Preferred has long been a premium ad program on the top-tier, most-popular YouTube channels.

By making the jump to YouTube TV, Google can turn the volume way up on the number of opportunities for monetization available to advertisers. This is likely just the beginning of the new and innovative options advertisers will have to update their strategies in today's fast-moving digital world.

 

The Effects of Facebook's Removal of Third-Party Data Targeting

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Say goodbye to data brokers and hello to a new way of reaching consumers. On March 28, 2018, Facebook announced it is banning third-party data targeting starting Sept. 30. The announcement sent a wave of apprehension through the marketing world. But there is some good news: Removing third-party data targeting creates more of a market correction, not a complete disruption. It might even give marketers better results in the long run.

What It Means

In 2013, Facebook launched its Partner Categories, which marked a milestone in the social media platform's partnership with large-scale data brokers such as BlueKai, Acxiom, and Datalogix. When it was created, Partner Categories was intended to provide advertisers with a way to connect in a meaningful manner with Facebook users, and get their brands in front of fresh, new eyes. The third-party data that has been collected has been used by numerous marketers and advertisers to target their audiences.

Marketers will now need to gain their data and information a different way, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Self-Identified Data Performs Better

As helpful as third-party data might be, it's not the be-all and end-all of data targeting strategies. In fact, many companies leveraging self-identified data — or first-party data — experience better performance and unmatched power in connecting with their customers. First-party data is highly focused, and pulls information directly from customers using a company's website or apps. That's why many in the industry think first-party data is the way of the future in digital marketing.

Not sure first-party data can be effective? Consider this: A 2015 study conducted by EConsultancy and Signal revealed that out of 300 senior-level marketers, roughly 66 percent believe first-party data provides a better understanding of customers, which also leads to better overall performance. So even though losing Facebook's third-party data targeting might feel like a sucker punch for many marketers, it's an opportunity to shift strategies and boost results.

The Consumer Connection

What does it mean for users? Facebook's move to end third-party data targeting comes closely on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a few weeks ahead of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes effective for countries in the European Union on May 25, 2018. This new regulation requires companies to get consumers' consent to collect data, giving consumers much more control over their personal information. That might be the largest impact on consumers.

So with its removal of third-party data, Facebook could be setting a new standard for the industry. This means marketers need to change with it, and continue using data collection strategies that best connect brands with potential customers.

Data Collection Isn’t The Enemy; It’s The Answer

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By: Andrew Ransom“Most ads I see are irrelevant to me.”

“Ads aren't very exciting.”

As brand and agency advertisers, we are constantly hearing from users and our clients about poor ad experiences. Ads are being served to irrelevant audiences, they aren’t captivating to users, or they provide a terrible experience by disrupting content. These are problems we work tirelessly to address, as our customers, and theirs, are best served by well targeted, engaging, and non-disruptive ads. And our biggest tool in addressing these issues is data collection; one of the least understood, and least trusted areas of advertising.

Before we get started, I want to address the elephant in the room. Proper, transparent, and ethical data collection, using third-party ad tags, must be the foundation for building a trusted ecosystem. This starts by eliminating the collection of personally identifiable information (PII). PII is essentially any data that could identify a specific individual to an advertiser. This includes names, addresses, etc. If we keep data collection anonymous, advertisers can still glean enormous insights without invading the privacy of those we are trying to serve.

How does user data help solve bad ads?

When a user browses the internet, visits websites, reads articles, or views ads, their browser is collecting things called cookies. These cookies collect information about the user’s behavior online; what sites they visit, what they’re shopping for, and more. This data is then used to bundle users anonymously into segments that share common behavioral, interest, or demographic traits. And those segments are how advertisers target users that may be interested in their products or services.

Thanks to this data, advertisers no longer have to serve ads to users solely through direct sales relationships or publisher-declared content categories; we are able to narrow down our reach to users who exhibit traits that make them more likely to be interested in our products. This increases relevance for users and advertisers alike, a true win-win for the digital ecosystem.

Tags also allow advertisers to cookie users who visit their website. By doing this, we can determine what categories of our products you’re looking for, if you added products to your cart and didn’t purchase, or if you actually completed a purchase. Knowing these things helps advertisers increase relevance another level. We can deliver ads that show you additional products in the category you browsed, we can send you a discount code for the product you added to your cart, and we can let you cool down after making a purchase so we don’t overwhelm you and create hostility toward our brand.

This non-invasive form of data collection is simple and protects the privacy of internet users. Because of these two things, even the smallest advertisers can now deliver a personalized ad experience for nearly every user. As more and more advertisers begin to adopt these practices, user experience will improve, advertising will become more effective, and we will create a more efficient digital economy for everyone.

How does data stop disruptive ads?

While collecting data on user behavior is an important part of improving digital advertising, there is another side to data collection that helps improve user experience across the web.

Tags placed within ads and on sites help DSPs, ad exchanges, and advertisers identify bad and disruptive ad inventory. When an impression is served we can tell where the ad is placed on the page, the probability that it was viewed by the user, if the ad was displayed in a pop-up window, etc. By identifying and eliminating these disruptive ads from the buy-side we accomplish a couple of things.

First, It allows us to stop buying disruptive ads. If they’re bad for the user, they’re bad for the advertiser, and we don’t want to spend money on inventory that will make users angry and potentially damage our brand. By eliminating this inventory from our campaigns, we reduce demand for them overall. As this continues to occur we will reach our second goal.

When demand for disruptive inventory reaches a certain point, it will become economically unsustainable for sites to continue to serve them. We will see DSPs and exchanges eliminate these sites from their inventory completely until disruptive ads are removed, and the industry will self-correct. We’ve already seen the beginning of this trend with Google’s latest announcement on ad blocking within its Chrome browser.

This type of data collection has a snowball effect. As it picks up steam, it rapidly helps improve the advertising inventory by signaling to advertisers which ad spaces are relevant, non-invasive, and provide a good user experience. As advertisers, when we see those signals we compete for those premium inventory spots, which pushes us to make more captivating and relevant ads as each impression becomes more valuable, and user experience is again increased.

What if we eliminated ad tracking?

As advertisers, we are sometimes asked why we track users at all. Why can’t we just let users view content in peace without following them around the web. The answer to that question is very simple and straightforward.

Advertising is how the internet gets paid for. It’s how companies, organizations, and individuals are rewarded for publishing captivating content on the web. Good content brings users, but users have an expectation online for content to be free. In order to maintain that relationship with users, content creators offer ad space to help offset the cost of content creation and to make a profit on their hard work. So, in essence, advertising will always be there as long as users expect content to be free.

If advertising is inevitable then we must make it useful to consumers. For nearly all its history advertisers could not track user behavior across the web. We were confined to purchasing blind impressions on groups of websites, purely because there were a large number of users there. Maybe we knew age and gender demographics of users, maybe we didn’t. But one thing was for sure, our ads wouldn’t be relevant to even a majority of those users.

So, for years, advertisers were forced to decide between boring and general ads that were made for everyone, or risk serving specific and irrelevant ads to millions of users. This was the equivalent of playing Dove commercials on Spike TV, or ESPN ads on Bravo. The ads were disruptive because users didn’t care about what was in them.

Now that we have the capability to deliver an ad experience tailored to the individual, where nearly every ad a user sees has some relevance to their life and desires, we have a responsibility to provide it to them. Providing a relevant experience increases user happiness, increases advertiser’s brand awareness, and increases profits. That’s why we track user data.

I’m still skeptical of being tracked.

As advertisers we have to respect that users will always be protective of their data, and they should be. And if we are going to collect their data, we have to set up safeguards to protect privacy. And that is what leaders in our industry are doing.

Data companies are providing data using double-blind methods, where the advertiser never sees the actual data, but is allowed to serve to audience segments based on a system of checks and balances. Data companies that provide better data get more business, and to continue to collect and provide good data they must protect user privacy. This adversarial system benefits user privacy while also providing advertisers with the tools to provide a unique experience.

Companies like Google, The Trade Desk, and others have also created coalitions to eliminate disruptive inventory on websites, allowing users to continue to view content without being interrupted. These coalitions are the watchdogs of advertising inventory. Their businesses benefit when ads are more effective, which happens when users are engaged.

These steps are the beginning of a movement in the advertising industry to restore trust between users and advertisers. This allows advertisers to truly understand what individual users want, and provide it to them. Proper and ethical data collection is not only a revolutionary movement in advertising, it’s a renaissance in the growing digital economy.

Digging Deeper: How to Leverage Facebook's Custom Audience Options

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Is yours one of the three million businesses that advertise on Facebook? The social media giant has a lot of ad power, not just because of its expansive reach, but because Facebook gives marketers the power to customize ads.

One of the most effective advertising tools Facebook has is its custom audiences. Marketers can create tailored audiences based on data, website activity, or app activity.

Types of Custom Audiences

There are three types of custom audiences that you can create:

  • Customer File

The most common way to create a custom audience is to utilize your customer files. You'll upload customer data, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and Facebook user IDs to build a tailored Facebook audience.

  • Website Custom Audiences

By installing a Facebook Pixel on your website, you can track website visitors and advertise to this custom audience.

  • App Activity Custom Audience

This audience is based on actions taken by your app users, such as in-app purchases or pages visited.

How to Use Custom Audiences Effectively

To get the most out of your custom audience, use these tips:

  • Segment your lists

Once you've created a custom audience, you should segment them into different groups to maximize relevancy and minimize costs. For instance, you could create a segment of VIP customers that buy from you frequently, or a group of lost customers whose purchasing behavior has slowed down.

Once you've segmented audiences, you can create specific ads that speak to each group.

  • Create lookalike audiences.

Facebook can help you find customers that look similar to those you already have. It's a great way to expand your reach. Just upload your customer list and use the Lookalike Audiences to find new customers that resemble existing ones.

  • Upsell to existing customers.

Selling to existing customers is always easier than trying to sell to new ones, so make sure you devote some of your ad dollars to customer retention. Create ads that woo your current customers with discounts or priority access to new products.

  • Learn from each campaign.

As you use custom audiences, you'll watch analytics to see how your ads perform. Start with a small budget and work your way up as you learn the platform and understand how your audience responds. Let each campaign be a learning experience.

Using Facebook to advertise can be a profitable endeavor, but by utilizing custom audiences you're more likely to reach interested customers and get the most out of your budget.