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Marketing 360® Blog

What is Microtargeting? (And Why It’s Vital for Your Marketing)

Post By Scott Yoder | Social Media Management

In 2019 and beyond, microtargeting will become the dominant marketing tactic. Let’s investigate what microtargeting is and why it will be vital for your business.

Once a marketer named Brian Swichkow created a Facebook Ad that actually targeted one person – his roommate.

This guy was a professional sword swallower who, ironically, found it difficult to swallow his medication. After a series of increasingly personal ads, the campaign culminated with an ad specific to sword swallowers who couldn’t swallow pills:

Facebook targeted ad

This ad campaign was a prank, but it showed the burgeoning potential of ad targeting at the individual level.

If this audience was a viable size to sell an actual product and make a profit, it would be a perfect example of microtargeting.

What is Marketing Microtargeting?

Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that uses people’s data to segment them into small, highly-defined groups for content delivery.

If you use Facebook, Google, or YouTube, you’ve no doubt experienced some microtargeting – as the target. This was probably in the form of a retargeting ad, delivered to you because you visited a website or interacted with a social media channel.

However, microtargeting is growing into a sophisticated outbound tactic.

For example, here is an ad created for people that are studying to become a nurse or who are interested in that career:

education case study facebook ad

Obviously, this ad can’t just be delivered to a broad demographic. You have to target people interested in LPN careers.

You might wonder how you do that. Well, a great place to start is on Facebook’s Audience Insights. Here, you can delve into interests – at the micro level. For instance, this nursing ad can be targeted to people looking in the NCLEX test and follow a page called LPN’s are nurses too!  

This gives a starting audience of about 30k people:

Or you could go on Google or YouTube and target intent signals. For example, say you want to sell someone a set of golf clubs.

In the past, you’d guess at demographic that might be most likely to buy the type of clubs you sell (say men ages 35-60) or use psychographics to target people interested in golf.

With intent signals, you can serve ads to people who searched for deals on golf club sets, spent time scouting vacations at golf resorts or scrolled though golf products on a shopping app. You have data that shows they are currently in the market for your product.

This is just a starting point, but it demonstrates the idea. You can target your ads on the micro level with today’s technology.

But that’s not actually the critical point. The crucial realization is that microtargeting is becoming a necessity. In 2019, you have to do it.

Small Business Microtargeting (or the Lack of It)

Microtargeting in 2019 represents a major opportunity for many small businesses.

And it’s not just because of the power of the technology. With microtargeting, we have a case where the technology is outpacing tactical execution.

In other words, the majority of local SMBs and niche eCommerce sites aren’t effectively targeting at the micro-level.

This is, in part, because the technology is still nascent. Google and Facebook, it seems, can’t get the recipe for microtargeting just right. They keep changing the platforms and renaming the services.

As a result, it’s difficult for small businesses to formulate and execute a strategy with microtargeting. The data on their audiences is there, but they still struggle with creating and delivering relevant content that draws people into their sales funnels.

A Complex Opportunity

A wise marketer involved in a complex marketing campaign recently said:

“If it were easy, someone else would have done it already. It’s a good thing this is freaking hard.”

The reality is that microtargeting is complex, and not just because Facebook changes their platform every month.

It’s not easy to get your head around targeting consumers on micro, individual level. Suddenly you need an ad collateral that targets individuals, relevant to the stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.

Machine learning, algorithms, and automation continue to make strides at the tactical level for microtargeting. Most of the time what you’ll do is set up broad audience targets with specific ad content and goals. The systems will then microtarget your ads in order to get the best results.

But businesses are still left with the need to come up with a strategy that will achieve their goals. Few businesses are on top of it.

Which means an opportunity to get a jump on the competition for businesses that get ahead of the curve.

The Attention Economy

We know at this point there’s no turning back. You have to find a way to execute microtargeting because it’s what consumers are coming to expect.

We use terms like relevancy marketing or the attention economy to describe the current marketing landscape.

The overarching idea is today people are so inundated with content that they’ll tune out anything that isn’t hyper-relevant.

This goes for any type of content, including entertainment, news, and politics.

But it’s irrevocably true for advertisers. If you put your ad in front of people for whom the content is irrelevant, you have no chance at all of winning their attention.

As these changes continue to evolve, Marketing 360® will work with clients to give them the greatest competitive advantage. Talk for free to a marketing consultant today to get your questions answered.