Tony Downs
| 10/06/2017

How to Use Audience Targeting to Serve Your Customers Better Ads

Traditionally, when you think about targeting, we segment people into groups based on when they’re born: Millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, etc. We assume, if you were born within a date range, you will exhibit certain characteristics. Then marketers try to create ways to reach this group of monolithic people. That’s how marketing and advertising has historically worked. And while tailoring your marketing along generational lines can be effective in some cases, we’ve found that there are better ways to reach customers. It’s important to understand that people are much more complex than that.

As a society, we’re defined by more than our birth year, and the technology industry is noticing this. Granularity and audience segmentation are proving more and more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach. Google, Facebook and Bing all have audience data readily available for your dealership to leverage. So how do you get started?

Know Your Audience

Customers Better Ads There are some classic audience types to target: in-market shoppers, those in your geographic location or shoppers interested in your particular brand. These are all lay-ups when it comes to audience targeting, and to be fair, they drive traffic. But, if you scratch the surface a little more, you can start to influence future customers long before they’re even ready to buy. Take me, for example: I’m married, a new homeowner and new dad to a nine-month-old baby girl. Prior to moving into the house in the suburbs, we rented an apartment in the city. So how do you take these basic facts and turn them into a marketing strategy? Think through the content I may regularly consume and how you can start to tell your story where I already am. Why not have video ads for larger cars: SUVs, minivans, etc. running before YouTube videos for basic home repair or baby product review videos? Show me vehicles that fit with my new lifestyle of car seats and Costco runs. Make me think about how my current vehicle that, while great for city driving and easy to parallel park, doesn’t really fit my needs anymore.

Here’s another example: my wife watches a video on how to properly install the car seat we just purchased. Before that video, a vehicle ad showcases the amount of storage and seating the car offers. The ad highlights a mom buckling her child in a car seat and ends with your dealership or dealer group logo. Because of the context, the ad really resonates with my wife. She wasn’t looking for a car, she was looking for answers. You’re advertising plus the video she was searching for end up providing both.

Building audience personas can help you better understand different groups, their habits, their interests and how you might target them. Spend some time with your advertising partners to better understand the personas your dealership might start to target.

We All Know an Ad When We See One; Know When to Show One

We hear all the time that millennials are skeptical of advertising, and that they don’t want to be “sold.” However, I think that applies to everyone to a certain degree; millennials are just more vocal about it. But if you’re meeting a customer with the information or product they want when they want it, it seems much less like “advertising” and much more like a helping hand.

Even the most helpful ads will fall on deaf ears if the goal of the ad doesn’t match who’s receiving it. Ask "what type of customer are you trying to influence" and work backwards from there. Think about all the potential audience segments that could apply to that customer, set your strategy based on the audience and goals, and monitor the results (e.g. visits, click through rate, downstream engagement) to make changes as needed.

Show Ads Where Your Customers Are

People are constantly interacting with multiple devices while going about their daily lives; this division of attention can actually work in your favor. By dividing your ad strategy across multiple platforms, you can simultaneously extend your reach across channels.

Customers Better Ads Take this scenario, for example: Someone watching Sunday football is exposed to a national ad for a truck during an ad break. When their attention drifts from the commercial to their phone to check how their Fantasy Football team is doing, your ads meet them there. How? You utilized topic targeting in AdWords, targeting those interested in Fantasy Football. Now, they’ll be exposed to an applicable advertisement specific to the vehicle they missed when they stopped watching the commercial.

Once they engage with that ad while checking their Fantasy score, you can now continue to market to them in other advertising channels (like Facebook via pixel tagging) leveraging other forms of audience targeting and continue to be at the forefront of their car buying journey.

Every person that walks on your lot has a reason for being there and has a story behind why they need a new vehicle. The same should be true with your advertising. Using audience targeting and lookalike audience data to reach those people and have them make an association with your dealership - seemingly behind the scenes without “inundating them with ads” - could be the key to your next sale.

Tony Downs
Tony Downs

Tony Downs is a Digital Advertising Strategist at CDK Global, and has seven years of digital marketing experience under his belt. His primary focus is working with dealer groups, some of CDK Global’s highest profile clients, constantly challenging him to come up with new and creative solutions to meet their advertising needs. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Pacific Lutheran University. He lives in Austin, TX.