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March 24, 2016

One of the most significant benefits of digital marketing is the ability to precisely identify and target the right audience for your brand. Demographic and behavioral targeting continue to be the two dominant types of targeting, but both their prevalence and relevance continue to evolve. The idea that demographic characteristics such as age and gender are the best indicators of whether a person will respond to your marketing efforts is being phased out, notes PR firm Hotwire. Assuming that a millennial must like dance music, emojis, or Buzzfeed is an inefficient way to market. It can also be just plain offensive and may result in your brand being perceived as one that labels instead of understands. The shifting digital landscape can be tricky to navigate, but it also offers marketers some exciting opportunities to learn more about how to precisely target their audience and reach their consumers in surprising and effective ways.

Because it relies on the actions of an individual as opposed to group assumptions on preference, behavioral targeting can be a more accurate indicator than demographic targeting of how a brand will resonate with a person. Let's not forget—at the end of the day, consumers, audiences, and segments are actual people. Gaining an understanding of a person's interests through behaviors like search queries, downloaded apps, and social media activities results in a much richer, more complex story than just knowing their age, gender, or ethnicity. Pinterest is one of the strongest platforms out there for brands that want to execute interest-based campaigns in a seamless native environment based on search behavior and self-curated content. Brands can target about a dozen different audience types with video ads, notes Adweek.

The rise of mobile allows marketers to reach more people as they move from place to place. If marketers can tap into GPS technology through mobile apps, a whole new type of behavioral targeting is possible, one that doesn't just rely on past preferences and historical behavior. In addition to where a person has been, you can now leverage where a person is at a given moment in the physical world. With navigation apps like Waze, it also becomes about where a person is going, and even where they want to go next.

To capture a person's mind and heart you'll need a strong contextual message, but the wealth of tools and technology that go into targeting can be overwhelming. The key is to understand and select the right tools to make the message most meaningful to each individual at that moment in their life.

Here's a great example of using the right tool to reach the right person at exactly the right time: A major car brand advertising a summer special on a new car model on Waze found that route length targeting garnered the best results. Users taking a longer journey were more likely to engage with the ad when compared to those on shorter journeys. This had more impact than any other variable—including creative and messaging—because consumers were in the right mindset to be considering a new car purchase. Knowing how to target your audience based on their behavior is crucial, but what is equally important is having the technology and tools to put your targeting knowledge to work for your campaign.
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