What is targeting?

Targeting is the ability to show ads to a specific audience, as opposed to everyone. Advertisers can select their target audience based on demographic, location, behaviour or context.

Why is targeting important?

An advertiser pays money to show ads. Their ads may not be relevant to everyone. If an advertiser is promoting dresses, showing these ads to men is unlikely to lead to a sale. This means the advertiser is wasting money.

To use their marketing budget as effectively as possible, advertisers use targeting to show ads to their target audience.

How does one target users?

There are different types of targeting: demographic, location, behavioral and contextual.


Advertisers can select users by demographic, such as age, gender, job title, etc.


Advertisers can select users by location. The advertiser has control to select what they want: by country, region within that country, city/town, or a radius around a location.

This allows advertisers to reach the right audience. For example, a bakery in New York would not want ads for their business to show in San Fransisco (which is a 40+ hour drive away). Instead, they would only want to show ads to customers who are nearby their business.

Behavioral targeting

Behavioral targeting selects users, based on their previous behavior. Advertisers can target users based on their previous behaviour, such as which products they bought or pages they visit.

Contextual targeting

Contextual targeting works by showing ads on relevant webpages. This is different to the above types of targeting, which do not rely on context (the webpage the user is visiting when an ad is shown).

Is targeting free?

Advertisers do not pay for targeting, but their average costs (e.g. CPM or CPC) go up.

When you add targeting to an advertising campaign, the available supply (targeted visitors) goes down. Of all the visitors on a website, only some would be selected through targeting.

When supply (targeted visitors) goes down, prices go up. This means the advertiser will need to pay a higher bid to get the same impressions.

This is especially true for high-value target segments, such as People looking to buy a car or People who work in tech. These audiences tend to purchase high-value items or have impact on a company’s budgeting decisions.

See also

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