Retargeting and demographic targeting have been looming larger & larger in the display ad landscape over the past year. Usually it’s pretty easy to figure out why any given AdWords ad popped up — either it’s contextual targeting and related to the site via contextual placement I’m visiting, or it’s remarketing and from an advertiser whose site I recently visited. But today, AdWords stumped me…
I was catching up on my Apple geekitude, and spotted halfway down the page a text ad “Meet Singles Into Cycling.”
Cycling has nothing to do with Apple, so it’s extremely unlikely to be contextually targeted via Automatic or Managed Placement. I’ve never been to www.Fitness-Singles.com (and I’m not just saying that in case my wife reads this!), so it can’t be straight retargeting.
I am very much into cycling — every day, rain or shine, in fact. But, I don’t search Google for “cycling” related queries with any regularity, so search retargeting is pretty unlikely. I don’t talk about cycling in my Gmail, so “Google’s reading my email!” paranoia would be unwarranted. I visit one cycling-related site regularly — velonews.com — which does run AdSense, and as evidenced by the little AdChoices icon, I do see interest-based ads on that site.
So, it appears that I’m getting DoubleClick cookies on my browser from visiting VeloNews.com, which are making their way back to Google and pegging me as a cyclist, which is then allowing advertisers using Interest Based Targeting to hit me with cycling-related ads.
What are the takeaways?
- In addition to retargeting efforts, think hard about incorporating Audience and Topic targeting into your AdWords display campaigns. Retargeting is the “it” tactic of 2011, but as more and more consumers become hip to remarketing (and numb to being shown their abandoned shopping carts), it’s sure to lose some luster in the future.
- Identify the sites in your niche that would identify someone as an aficionado. Visiting REI.com doesn’t reveal that much — I could be into cycling, or hiking, or skiing, or just looking for new shoes. But, visiting VeloNews.com betrays me as a cycling nut — no one else but a cyclist would ever visit the site.
- If they’re running AdSense, get to know them well, because they could be influencing ads being shown to your target audience across the Web.