May 25, 2006, 12:00 AM

Ad targeting offering options for boosting CPC campaign success

Ad targeting can minimize clicks less likely to pay off and increase CPC campaign ROI. New options offer narrower targeting but raise campaign management complexity, says

The web universe is big and getting bigger all the time. Narrowing the field by targeting campaigns is one way marketers using paid search seek to minimize clicks less likely to pay off and boost ROI. But different targeting concepts face marketers with different challenges and opportunities, says Joe Laratro, chief technology office of search engine marketing company

Geographical targeting is one way to set up a CPC campaign, with international, national, regional or even local parameters. The chosen parameters should be based on the goals of the web site, according to Laratro. Contextual advertising, another means of targeting, has shown an upside and a downside to marketers that use it. “It’s been a blessing and a burden to CPC advertisers,” says Laratro.

Specifically, it’s a quick way to find new ad distribution, but the quality of those web sites and the associated tracking don’t always measure up, he notes. To spend efficiently on contextual targeting, marketers can go into each campaign and establish maximum bids for the content network. These can be significantly lower than search network bids, as they represent a smaller universe and there is a higher perceived value and more competition for search network bids, according to Laratro.

Site targeting is a more recent development in contextual advertising. Laratro says it’s now possible for marketers to target specific web sites their ad will appear on: for instance, a site selling scuba gear might target Caribbean travel web sites.

An option just emerging for ad targeting is demographic targeting, he notes. MSN’s adCenter offers some capacity in targeting paid search campaigns by demographics; for instance, it will offer the option of placing different bids based on demographics. Under that scenario, a web site that sells baby products could target women between the ages of 18 and 35. Google and Yahoo so far offer their own version of demographic ad targeting only on their content networks, he says.

“Bidding techniques using demographics will be some of the most complex tactics in the near future,” says Laratro. For now, he recommends, marketers using demographic targeting offline should test the same targeting online, when they have the opportunity.

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