Paid Audience Targeting Won’t Overcome SEO Focused Keyword Targeting Anytime Soon

by | Nov 9, 2018 | Blog

Every so often in my digital marketing career, I come across strategies that are touted as game changers. One of the marketing techniques that has gained popularity thanks to its remarkable success rate is audience targeting.

If you’re marketing your business online, you already know that finding a likely customer isn’t easy. You have limited time and resources but you still have to reach the right people who need your products or services i.e. your intended audience.

This is where audience targeting comes in to help businesses filter and determine who gets to see their digital ads.

Digital Marketing Consulting Expert Braden Tobler12

Paid Audience Targeting Vs. SEO Keyword Targeting

I agree that audience targeting is highly valuable especially if you can obtain accurate data that gives you crucial insights into your intended customers’ personas. You can then use this data to power your ads. For instance, knowing your target customers demographics, interests and even location is all invaluable information when I’m doing market research and data analysis for one of my clients. This helps me determine how to package their business for maximum conversion.

In spite of all that audience targeting can help us accomplish, it has its weaknesses. I don’t agree with those who say that paid search audiences can replace keyword targeting. The main reason it won’t do so is because it lacks the specificity and inherent intent that keyword targeting has.

Think of audience targeting as casting a somewhat wide net and raising awareness of your brand, product or service. You’re relying heavily on the law of averages here i.e. if you cast a wide enough net at some point, you’re going to catch someone who’s interested in what you’re selling.

When SEO Keyword Targeting Trumps Paid Audience Targeting

By contrast, keywords work (and have worked) so well in targeting because they reveal the customer’s individual, personal and temporal intent.

Individual Customer Intent

  • Unlike audience targeting which assumes that a group of people with same demographics, interest etc, want the same things, keywords cut through all the chaff and help to narrow down to a single individual’s intent.

Personal Customer Intent

  • Keywords help disclose exactly what’s on a person’s mind. For instance, let’s say a teenager searches for hot summer dresses on Google. This tells you that they’re interested in summer dresses so you can display an ad that matches that intent. Instead of looking for random teens based on age or where they live, you’ll target or respond to those who specifically express interest in summer dresses. That’s the power of keywords.

Temporal Customer Intent

  • Marketers know that timing is everything. However, with audience targeting, you’re essentially sticking a digital billboard in front of a large group of people, hoping to spark their interest in whatever you’re promoting. But keyword targeting empowers you to respond to your potential customer’s query at the exact time they express interest so you’re more likely to have a higher conversion rate.

For these reasons, I don’t think audience targeting will replace keyword targeting anytime soon.

To find out how keyword targeting can work for your business, get in touch for a consultation.

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