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Man and woman working on campaign targeting ?>
Man and woman working on campaign targeting

Programmatic Advertising 101: Campaign Targeting Tactics

Let’s pretend you’re running an ad campaign and you’re trying to target 35-year-old mothers who enjoy board games and have an interest in luxury fashion. Where do you start and how do you find that exact audience? A women’s magazine? Sure, but who reads those anymore? A fashion show’s commercial? Maybe, but how often do those even run? It would take months of trial and error to figure out what works best. In most cases, you’re left playing a guessing game and hoping that once your ad is up and running the right people are seeing the content.

Data is Programmatic’s Best Friend

How do you combat this and find the right audience? It comes down to data. Programmatic uses data to solve the guessing game and provides easy access to the right audience and the best places to find them online. With more robust targeting options and the ability to run campaigns with several tactics, you can run successful campaigns — while also using your budget wisely.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the hard part is deciding where to start. There are different campaign types, all offering a unique set benefits that can help achieve specific end goals or add to the overall performance of your digital marketing strategy.

Types of Targeting Tactics for Programmatic Advertising

Some targeting strategies include audience targeting, contextual targeting, website or app targeting, retargeting, and geo fencing. Let’s break down each one to help you get started:

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting allows you to serve ads to unique individuals, targeting users based on specific demographic data, behaviors or interests. Demographics data could include gender, age, income, or education, and interests might be cooking, gardening or fitness. No more shots in the dark; because we finally have an exact group of people we can easily target, no matter where they are. Third-party data providers, such as Lotame, Exelate or BlueKai, generate these audience lists by building segments using algorithms and data collection strategies. Audience targeting campaigns are useful if you have an idea of the people you are looking for, but you don’t know exactly where to find them.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is similar to an audience campaign, in that it targets based on a set of third-party data segments. The difference is that contextual targeting looks for the type of content users are browsing on the sites. The beauty of programmatic is that you can get very specific with targeting different types of content on specific pages. These content targeting segments can be as broad as sports, news or entertainment, or more specific, like baseball, healthcare news and award shows.

Website Targeting or App Targeting

Website or App targeting is useful when you already know what sites or apps you want your ads to run on. Choosing specific domains is useful for both desktop and mobile web campaigns, but you can also target specific apps for a mobile app campaign if you know which ones you want to run on. You can often combine campaign types in a single campaign to make the best use of the targeting options available. For example, you can use a list of sites you want to target (website or app targeting), and specify an audience group you are looking for on these pages (audience targeting).


Retargeting is essential for re-engaging users who have previously visited your site, taken action on your site, or have past-purchase history. This is an effective targeting method to bring customers back, keep them interested, offer additional info, or ensure a final purchase is made. In many cases, it may take several visits before online shoppers decide to make a purchase. This is why it is valuable to retarget prior site visitors with relevant creatives. Remember that black pair of sneakers you had in your online shopping cart yesterday? You may notice that it’s been following you around the web. That’s an example of retargeting.

Geo Fencing

Geo Fencing is a hot topic for marketers because it focuses on targeting individuals within a specific geographic perimeter, or fence (hence the name). These digital boundaries can be built around a specific place of interest — whether it is your physical location, your competitor’s location, or a place where your audience group is congregated. This type of geo targeting is ideal for mobile campaigns. You can target specific locations for desktop campaigns, but since geo fencing campaigns use GPS data, it is much more effective with mobile devices. This campaign type can also be referred to as a hyperlocal campaign, which is what it is named within Basis.

Basis offers each of these campaign types, along with a number of additional targeting features such as different creative types (static and video), brand protection segments, and various geo targeting capabilities.

Learn more about retargeting with Centro.