By Todd Green and Amy Juarez

Powerful creatives make ads. Eye-catching images and engaging copy are what transforms a user into a customer. However, no matter how clever the tagline or beautiful the product shot, successful campaigns depend heavily on targeting as well. Reaching the right users—and future customers—is just as vital as delivering impactful creative. However, campaign success doesn’t just require these pieces of the marketing puzzle to be effective, it also demands a synergy between the two. Great creative isn’t just attractive for the sake of being attractive, it also works for its campaign targeting. Likewise, targeting tactics can help elevate creative messaging. In digital advertising regardless of your tactic – geo-targeting, dayparting, or contextual – getting these strategies to work in harmony with creative is key to driving results.

Geo-Targeting

Geo-targeting can work in a couple different ways. The first is when a product, event, or offer is for a local market. The second is when a targeted market has just shown proven success for similar campaign goals. Either way, geo-targeting tactics allow advertisers to efficiently reach users. It also presents a great opportunity for effective creative messaging. For example, a campaign that is segmented by major U.S. cities can speak specifically to the residents of each.

“Hey New Yorkers, look at my product I’m selling you!” *

*Please keep in mind, I am not a copywriter and this would be a horrendous piece of copy in execution, but you get the idea. Geo-targeted copy should include references that resonate with users within the geo (that should probably be a little less obvious than the above example).

For example, local events, activities, and lifestyle can direct this strategy. If the product is sunglasses, messaging in Colorado might have to do with finding the perfect pair for the slopes, while the messaging in Florida might focus on the shades as beach day essentials. Likewise, images can perform the same service. If I live in Chicago, I will probably relate more to a picture of a shiny new car in the streets of my city, rather than one driving through the Redwoods.

Through creative geo-targeting, an advertiser is able to present multiple unique messages within a singular campaign, making the most out of its targeting and creative strategy.

Dayparting & Flighting

Similar to geo-targeting, dayparting and flighting are utilized in order to serve ads when they are most effective. While dayparting might be determined by the product or service being promoted (i.e. the campaign offer is only available Monday through Friday) or by past performance (i.e. most game downloads happen in the evenings or on the weekends), strategic optimizations do not have to end here. To ensure that creative messaging is also aligned with this tactic, one must look at factors surrounding the time of day, day of the week, and time of year—what’s going on when the ad is served.

For example, if you’re a coffee brand, messaging in the morning can focus on how this coffee will be the absolute best start to the day, while messaging in the afternoon can speak to an audience in desperate need of a mid-workday pick-me-up. From a flighting perspective, you can also plan creative rotation around weather or events associated with the time of year. In the hottest days of summer, a hotel chain could serve ads exclusively with images of pool and spa amenities. A high-end camera brand could feature high-definition images of upcoming festivals, fairs, or sporting events. Serving messaging relevant to an audience’s experience makes the ads more authentic, personal, and thus, more effective.

Contextual Targeting

Another major way to ensure ads are seen by the right eyeballs is by contextually targeting a campaign. When you are buying media on a large scale, narrowing ad placements to categorically appropriate content is achieved through this tactic. However, once you’ve narrowed down your audience, it’s also important that you are engaging said audience. This, again, is where creative comes in.

If you know your campaign will be running exclusively on a certain type of inventory, why not take advantage of the space, especially when executing Native Advertising? To create a truly Native ad, the placement should not only replicate the look and feel of the page but should also contextually fit in its environment. While this doesn’t require that every advertiser on ESPN be directly sports-related, presenting paid content that is relevant to a sports fan creates the most seamless user experience, thus effectively engaging the user.

Additionally, on campaigns with broader targets, creative strategy can be unique by contextual categories. These categories create profiles with which you are able to build creative around. A bank, for example, may want to reach recent grads, young parents, and to-be retirees in one campaign.

  • Careers, Tech, Sports, Arts & Entertainment
  • Family & Parenting, Food & Drink, Education
  • News, Business, Hobbies & Interests, Travel

By segmenting the campaign and customizing appropriate creative, this advertiser can speak to each of these audiences without waste.With the constant evolution of the digital advertising industry, specialized targeting is becoming more and more dominant in shaping campaign strategy and it certainly is not limited to geo, daypart, or contextual methods. From location-based to behavioral targeting to whatever comes next, new and emerging targeting technologies demand creative strategy that both complements and advances them. In order to run a smart campaign, you have to be smart—about who you are speaking to (through targeting) and how you are speaking to them (through creative). When campaigns are approached with these two interconnected components at the forefront of strategic planning, great advertising can happen.

With the constant evolution of the digital advertising industry, specialized targeting is becoming more and more dominant in shaping campaign strategy and it certainly is not limited to geo, daypart, or contextual methods. From location-based to behavioral targeting to whatever comes next, new and emerging targeting technologies demand creative strategy that both complements and advances them. In order to run a smart campaign, you have to be smart—about who you are speaking to (through targeting) and how you are speaking to them (through creative). When campaigns are approached with these two interconnected components at the forefront of strategic planning, great advertising can happen.