content targetingContent targeting is a more precise way of targeting ads to the desired audience. Also known as contextual advertising, it delivers ads to content pages based on the keywords in advertisements and content pages.  In standard paid inclusion advertising, search queries are matched to advertisements.  By focusing on content, content targeting can provide a better return on advertising dollars.  It is a faster, better, smarter approach to internet marketing.

If you are one of the 94% of businesses who make $500 or less online a month, then it is time to step up your content marketing efforts.  All the major search engines use content targeting, including Google, Yahoo and Bing. Many of the references in this article refer to Google’s AdSense network. If you need a refresher on internet marketing and the place of content marketing in your overall program, review online marketing from A to V.

When content targeting was first introduced and the ad world was still cozying up to it, there were concerns over the return on investment. Would I as an advertiser have to spend $12 to sell a $5 stick of lipstick online? The content targeting market has matured, and advertisers have identified the most effective strategies. Here is what they have learned.

What Can You do With Content Targeting?

In the super competitive online marketing world, web site visitors must be immediately engaged by your content whether it is on your website or in an ad placement on someone else’s website. Smart content targeting allows you to customize your content to get the attention of your target market.  You can use content targeting for more than moving up the search engine rankings.

Create targeted advertising – Ensure ads attract your target market through well-defined placement targeting.

Improve content placement – If users have to click through many pages to find what they need, you are likely to lose their attention. The process of content marketing helps you define what your market wants.

Streamlining content – You can ensure customer storefronts are directed towards the right traffic.

Localize content – Change your keywords, and optionally content and look, to appeal to different geographic regions and demographics.

There are a number of telltale signs that it is time to improve your content marketing strategy. A sure sign is if your return on investment (ROI) in your SEO strategy is low. Many people may be coming to your site but no one is buying. If you are selling children’s clothes and manga comic fans are flooding your site, you content targeting needs tweaking.

Successful content targeting follows a few golden rules.

Managing Keywords Terms

According to online marketers, 25 to 50 keywords is the optimal number for a content ad group. The more keywords you add over this optimal number the more likely that you will dilute the relevancy of your keywords and be placed on less relevant sites. Remember that keywords create important contextual information. When deciding where to place your ads, Google will create a theme based on your keywords.  A one word ad group will also cast too wide a net. ‘online marketing’ will make you a small fish in a large pond. ‘Online marketing content targeting’ will attract those who want to learn more about this specific tool.

To further define your targeting, use duplicate keywords across ad groups. Remember it is a bidding process and the more specific keywords will dominate. If you use ‘online marketing’ and ‘online marketing content targeting lessons,’ you will attract those who are looking for content targeting lessons.


To avoid paying $12 for a $5 sale, track your costs and conversions over time periods and use the terms with the best cost-to-performance ratio in your content network. Do not hang on to losers but do not cut your losses too quickly. Sometimes a term that is unpopular one week, jumps in the ratings the next. Content clicks convert at a lower rate than search campaigns. Consider this difference when setting your bids.

Placement Targeting

Placement targeting allows you to choose the sites you will place your ad on. You have complete control over the criteria used to choose sites – demographics, keyword searches, and so on.  SEO analytical tools can drill down to an information rich level to help you define the websites your customers will shop at. This information helps to define the buyer personas you have created to understand the demographics, behavior, motivations and buying patterns of your potential customers. The more precise your buyer archetype is, the higher the quality of your placement targeting.

The search engine’s placement performance report is a key tool for managing your ROI in placement targeting. It will tell you how well you are doing on the web sites on which your ad appears, including costs, conversion rate, and so on. You can then exclude low performing sites. You will also use this performance report in retargeting campaigns. Based on traffic patterns and visitor behavior, in what new ways can you segment and retarget this market? Both content and customer characteristics can become more refined at this stage.

Your Persona’s Web History

The information you need to define your persona is available in your online marketing analytics.

Traffic source – Where are your customers coming from? Did they find you through a search query or hop over from a share on Facebook? What content is the traffic source using to engage them?

When did they visit? – Are they visiting on weekends? At lunchtime? Do they return after dinner for a longer browse?

Customer history – Is this a returning customer with a sales history? How have they engaged themselves on your site? Did they share your article? Play a video?  What actions do they take before sales conversion?

Content Management

Content should be matched to keywords. You are writing for the buyer persona you have identified. Give him a name, and refer to him as you develop your content. Speak to him directly. If the content is an ad, decide if a banner, image or video ad will work best.

Content Targeting Tools

Many software solutions are available to help you produce more powerful content targeting programs. If you are targeting many markets across global markets and/or different products and services you may want a more robust content management solution. Shop around. There are many content management tools for small and large budgets. The list of content management software available may seem daunting, reviewing their features can help you develop your content strategy.

Programmatic buying is a way to fine-tune your content targeting program. Automated buying allows you to set specific criteria so you only pay for the demographic you want. Algorithms produce impressions based on the buyer behavioral patterns and demographics you choose. Parameters can also be predetermined on bid prices.

Content targeting should be part of an integrated online marketing plan.  Start by refining your SEO analytics, link building and analysis, and keyword analysis with the emphasis on letting your content speak directly to the customer you want to attract as he is searching the web. Follow the steps to using the Google marketing template, optimizing Google adwords, and creating personas.

You do not need a big budget to develop a powerful content targeting plan. And with tools like programmatic buying, much of the time-consuming work has been taken out of online marketing. Whether you are growing a blog or a fast growing sales business, content targeting with strategic and smart SEO tactics can improve your marketing impact and ROI.


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