What’s Next for Targeted Digital Advertising?

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Tips From Your Digital Marketing Agency on How to Handle an Increasingly Cookie-less World

If you’ve been in the marketing game for even five minutes, then you probably have heard the term “targeted advertising.” It’s when a company has a specific audience or demographic they cater their marketing efforts towards.

Brands like Nike and Adidas craft their ads to young athletic types or those that aspire to be healthy and fit. Those are the folks who are most likely to buy what they’re selling – or, as we say in the biz – their target.

Targeted advertising is throwing the proverbial marketing dart at the bullseye. Conversely, non-targeted advertising is throwing the dart while wearing a blindfold as you spin around directionless on a Roomba.

Try to guess which one of these methods is going to score more points. If you said “targeted,” you’re one smart cookie.

And speaking of cookies, they happen to be a big part of targeted advertising when it comes to personalizing ads. Targeting cookies (aka advertising cookies) collect information about users and the sites that they visit so that they can be later used to display relevant ad topics.

How Cookies Are Used in Marketing

If you went to the Apple website, Microsoft website, and Best Buy website all in a short time period, the cookies collected would likely determine you’re a user interested in tech or consumer electronics. You would then probably see ads for those types of products. And because you’ve shown an interest in these things in the past, the likelihood that you click on an ad is much higher compared to someone who’s never visited those sites.

Cookies help marketers find the people who are – at the very least – interested in the things they happen to be selling. It’s in the absence of cookies and information that cause users to see ads that have absolutely nothing to do with their interests.

How Things Have Recently Changed in the Cookie World

There are a few big things happening in the cookie world that businesses and digital marketing agencies need to be aware of.

The first thing you need to know is that certain browsers are gradually ending the use of third-party cookies. This came down the pipeline when Google announced that it would start blocking third-party ads on Google Chrome and replace them with Topics API, which shows what topics users are interested in based upon their most recent web browsing data. It’s not nearly as precise or comprehensive as cookies, though.

The other big thing worth noting is that many of the main browsing platforms already block third-party cookies. This includes Safari, Firefox, and the lesser-known Brave. You’ve probably also noticed during your normal web browsing that many sites are now asking whether you want to accept or reject cookies. Many users opt to reject cookies because they’d prefer not to have their activity tracked, no matter how innocent.

From the perspective of the user, this protects their internet privacy. However, from the perspective of the marketer, it takes away valuable targeting information. Not having that targeting info makes coming up with an effective digital marketing strategy just a tad more difficult than it used to be.

How to Market in a World with Less Cookies

6 glass cookies jars in front of a white background, with decreasing amounts of cookies in each jar from left to right

Like it or not, businesses and marketers are going to have to get used to the Google Topics API. You’ll still be able to get information about potential customers; however, it won’t be nearly as comprehensive as what cookies provided.

Google Topics breaks down like this:

  • Google will only collect the most recent three weeks of browser data.
  • Based on that browser data, it will boil down the user’s interests into a handful of topics; Google has a list of 300 topics right now, and there’s a high likelihood that number will increase.
  • Those topics will be delivered to relevant advertisers.

For instance, if you spent the past three weeks obsessing over running shoes, companies like Nike would likely get the topic data. Some relevant Google topics for running shoes include:

  • “Sports & Fitness”
  • “Sports & Fitness > Health & Fitness Buffs”
  • “Sports & Fitness > Sports Fans > Running Enthusiasts”

For something like Google Display advertising or PPC, this shouldn’t be a huge adjustment. Because these methods are classified as early relay race marketing tactics, they’re more about increasing brand awareness for a company rather than conversion. Companies and marketers can shift their images and copy to be topic-based rather than target-based. Granted, this is a broader target, but it’s a target, nonetheless.

Additionally, companies would do well to focus on other methods of marketing that are higher intent and can help them ramp up organic traffic and conversions. Although you won’t be able to count on Google Display advertising and PPC campaigns like before, methods such as paid search and Google search engine optimization remain reliable ways to help brands connect with the people who are searching for them by keyword and high-intent search phrases.

Get Off the Roomba with a Digital Marketing Agency That Knows Their Stuff

As an award-winning digital marketing agency, we’ve been through several ups, downs, and pivots in the marketing world. When Google updates their algorithm, we adapt. When they phase out third-party cookies, we adapt again.

Marketing is this ever-changing dartboard with a moving target. Through research, experience, and a ton of tools and resources, iFocus Marketing manages to hit bullseyes for our clients on a consistent basis.

Rather than spin mindlessly on the Roomba of untargeted marketing, book a discovery call with the iFocus team today. This is just a short conversation where you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your business, and your marketing goals. Once we have that, we can consult internally with our team to devise a plan that will help you reach your business goals.

If you like our plan, you can officially make iFocus your digital marketing agency. Our team of creatives, account managers, and marketers will be at your complete disposal and ready to work on your behalf. To get started, call (913) 708-8567 or send us an email.

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