Blog / Marketing Targeting – The Basics of Targeted Advertising

Marketing Targeting – The Basics of Targeted Advertising

Titelbild Blogbeitrag Marketing Targeting - Grundlagen zum zielgerichteten Werben
Maurice – October 8, 2023 – 10 min read

You want to show your messages to people who are really interested in them? Then targeting is your key to success.

Targeting is an important tool for reaching potential customers. Therefore, no company should do without it. But how does it work and what information and data is needed for this?

In this article, we’ll explain what targeting is, its importance in online marketing, and how targeting works in the first place. We also introduce different forms of targeting and present the most important targeting techniques.

What is targeting in online marketing?

Targeting is an important tool in online marketing. The term targeting comes from the English language and is derived from the word “target”. This means “target” and this is exactly the focus of targeting. Targeting is at the heart of online marketing. The point is to show your ads only to people who are really interested.

Definition targeting

In German, the term “Targeting” is often also referred to as “Zielgruppenansprache”. The goal of targeting: to make a product or service as public as possible in order to increase sales. That’s why many companies often spend large sums of money to implement targeting measures.

Targeting is intended to present the advertised product or service only to actual, potential customers. This is because targeting allows videos, banners and other advertising to be specifically targeted and displayed only to people who are considered the target group for the product or service. The following applies: The more precisely the filter is set, the lower the wastage and the greater the effectiveness of your advertising.

For targeting methods to work, the right target group must first be identified, otherwise all efforts are in vain. Once this is found, various online targeting strategies can be applied to address potential customers. Afterwards, online marketing should be closely analyzed and, if necessary, adjusted for future campaigns and advertising.

How does targeting work?

For successful targeting in online marketing, it is crucial to take a structured approach. Each step raises important questions that must be answered to maximize the effectiveness of your campaign:

  • Target group analysis – Who is my target group and how do I find them?
    The first step is to identify the target group. Without it, any strategy is doomed to fail.
  • Objective – What do I want to achieve with the campaign?
    Before you get started, you should define clear goals. Whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation or increased sales, a clear goal is the starting point for any successful campaign.
  • Strategy selection – Which targeting methods are best suited to my target group?
    The target group analysis is followed by the choice of targeting methods. These include content targeting, keyword targeting and socio-demographic targeting.
  • Advertising measures – How do I reach my target group effectively?
    The goal is to reach the selected target group through various channels such as advertisements and search engine advertising.
  • Success analysis – How do I measure the success of my campaign?
    After the campaign, success must be measured. A good indication of this is the increase in the conversion rate.
  • Adaptation and optimization – What do I do if my campaign is not successful?
    If the strategy does not work as desired, adjustments are necessary. This can range from small tweaks to a redirection of the entire campaign.

Remember, targeting is only one component of a comprehensive marketing strategy and should always be considered in the context of other methods.

Excursus: Steps for effectively addressing target groups

As said before, the most important thing in targeting is the right definition of the target group. Before you can get started with targeting, you need to know your audience. And how do you do that? Through a careful target group analysis. Once you know who you want to reach, you can set different targeting strategies.

Quick start: How to find your target group

  1. Market research: Use surveys and studies.
  2. Customer analysis: Who already buys from you?
  3. Competitive analysis: Who are your competitors’ target groups?
  4. Social Media Insights: Leverage the data from your social media channels.

If you want to learn more about defining your target audience, visit our guide: Defining Your Target Audience – A Guide to Defining Your Target Audience.

The most important targeting techniques at a glance

The right placement of content or advertising on the Internet plays a major role. That is why companies from all sectors use at least one targeting method to reach more potential customers with advertising.

Different targeting techniques at a glance:

Keyword targeting

Classic targeting works on the basis of keywords. This means that a user who starts a query in a search engine is shown online advertising that matches the keywords. This targeting method is one of the most successful marketing measures and is based on the information and keywords that search engines like Google and Co. collect. However, many users view this form of targeting quite critically due to the lack of data protection.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting deals with the interactions and search behavior of users. By means of cookies, the corresponding data can be stored and subsequently used for so-called predictive behavioral targeting. In this form of targeting, the needs and interests of users are analyzed before they are expressed by the user. This works mostly online via platforms, but can also happen in real life in stores using affiliate programs and loyalty cards.

Emotional Targeting

Emotional targeting is about picking up the user emotionally. For example, reaching the user with a corresponding advertisement when he wins a gaming app or activating the user with suitable advertisements when watching a video on a platform such as YouTube.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting, also known as context targeting, deals with advertisements that are placed in a topic-related environment. Thus, with contextual targeting, for example, an article about fashion trends and fashion tips will display advertisements from online stores with fashion.

Geographic targeting

Geographic targeting is another form of targeting. This is particularly relevant for stationary businesses such as restaurants, shopping stores or cafés. In this case, the user is shown advertisements from nearby stores based on GPS location or IP address. This is why this is also referred to as IP targeting. This allows users to find out in advance about the contents of a restaurant’s menu or a store’s range of goods.


With re-targeting, a user is shown ads for products in which he or she was previously interested. This means that the user’s data is accessed and thus familiar products and services are offered again. This type of targeting is particularly promising and minimizes wastage. In addition, this form of targeting has a significantly lower bounce rate.

Sources of error and limitations of online targeting

Although targeting measures help to deliver advertising to specific target groups, there are also limitations and negative side effects. Many users feel unsettled by the display of advertising banners. Especially laymen, who hardly know their way around online, are often surprised about the accuracy of fit of the banners and feel “monitored”. They question the protection of their privacy. This can make advertising not only stimulating, but also disturbing and intrusive. This is especially the case with aggressive re-targeting.

Marketing Targeting Examples

Advertisers have several options for targeting. In the following sections, we present the best-known examples:

Targeting examples

Targeting on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram offer numerous targeting opportunities. Here, not only can attributes such as gender and age of a targeting group be specified, but a specific geographic environment can also be selected. The selection options go so far that advertisers can precisely target people who live in a certain location or users who are currently in the vicinity.

The definition of the target group differs from country to country. In the USA, a precise definition is possible. In Germany, on the other hand, the options for companies are significantly limited due to strict regulations. Basically, however, the following precise filters are available on Facebook and Instagram:

  • Close friends who have a birthday coming up,
  • the level of training,
  • People who have a birthday in the next few weeks,
  • newly in love,
  • People who have their anniversary coming up.

Targeting with Google Ads

Besides social networks, targeting can also be done via Google Ads. Here, too, precise filters and factors for the people to be reached can be selected for campaigns. Advertisers can choose from the following options:

  • Target groups with common interests,
  • Target groups with common purpose,
  • Education,
  • Marital status,
  • Life events such as moving, changing jobs, getting married or starting a business.

Targeting on LinkedIn

LinkedIn provides just as many possibilities to reach suitable users with a strategy and to skilfully avoid wastage. The advantage of the platform: Here, the target group is already limited from the outset and a particularly professional approach is possible. Advertisers can rely on the timeliness of information and have the following options for narrowing down:

  • Training,
  • Interests,
  • Work Experience,
  • Identity (gender, age),
  • Company.

Conclusion: Targeting increases the hit rate and prevents scattering losses in online marketing

If you want to target specific people with your content and advertising, you should definitely not do without targeting. It increases the hit rate of your marketing campaign and prevents wastage. Depending on the industry and company, you should rely on different targeting methods.

Don’t you have any experience with targeting? No problem, because we help you to familiarize yourself with targeting and design suitable strategies for you and your company. Get in touch now and let us support you!


What is targeting?

Targeting is a tool of online marketing. Targeting is used to present a service or product to potential customers only. This achieves effective advertising that reaches only a selected target group. This prevents wastage.

What are the different types of targeting?

There are several types of targeting, these include:
Keyword Targeting,
Behavioral Targeting,
Emotional Targeting,
IP Targeting,
semantic targeting, etc.


8+ years of Growth Marketing
Published October 8, 2023


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