What Is Behavioral Targeting?

In addition to contextual targeting, another method of reaching a narrower, but more qualified, group of potential customers is demographic targeting.

For example, if you’re trying to sell a music sharing service, your main target age group might be the 18- to 25-year-old crowd. But if you’re advertising a drug used to treat sickle cell anemia, you can further target your advertising to 22- to 35-year-old African Americans.

As effective as demographic targeting can be, however, it’s still not the best way to reach highly qualified leads on the Internet. What works much better is behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting is a relative newcomer to advertising targeting. It’s the practice of serving ads to users based on their past search behaviors and web-surfing habits. And even though behavioral targeting is fairly new, it’s getting a lot of attention from web marketers.

Behavioral targeting is so effective because search marketing has expanded so much. In the past, search marketing was only about search. Today, search marketing can

target demographics, dayparting, and behavior. And because today’s audiences are more fragmented than they have ever been, the more specific marketing efforts can be, the more effective they’ll be.


Behavioral marketing has many other benefits, too. For example, although behavioral targeting results in fewer impressions, it also results in a higher conversion rate, because the ad is more targeted than a contextual ad might be. Additional benefits of behavioral targeting include:

More click-throughs.
Click-throughs are those times when potential customers or site visitors click through your PPC (or other) ad and land on your site.

More conversions.
As you’ve seen already, behavioral targeting tends to reach fewer people, but it results in more goal conversions. Because your goal conversions should be designed to result in either a sale or the collection of data to help you reach a sale, the conversion rate for ads placed using behavioral targeting is much higher.

Improved return on investment.
Return on investment is the metric that seems to drive everything these days. Behavioral targeting helps to improve the ROI of your PPC and other advertising programs, because ads placed using behavioral targeting are more pinpointed to the type of audience that is most likely to make a purchase, provide data, or sign up for a newsletter or other service.

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