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Display Targeting: Which Types Are Right For Your Small Business?

Last updated 3 years ago

One of the important factors in running a display advertising (or banner advertising) campaign is choosing the targeting types that are most effective at reaching an audience interested in your products or services. To select the most impactful targeting types for your campaign, consider who you’re trying to reach: does your business appeal to consumers with a particular interest (e.g., in-market auto shoppers), or does it apply to a very broad audience (i.e., people that own air conditioners)? 

Once you’ve determined your audience, it’s important to understand the following techniques when selecting your display advertising media buy.

Geographic Targeting

Geographic targeting is the broadest form of audience targeting for a display advertising campaign. This technique shows your banner ad to people in the geographic area you want to reach (typically using the consumer’s IP Address) across a wide variety of websites.  As a local business, you should apply geographic targeting based on the specific region (or Designated Marketing Area) where your consumers reside. However, targeting a narrow geographic area, such as a specific zip code, could potentially work against you if it limits your audience so much that not enough people see your ad.

Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting uses audience demographics, such as age, location, and gender, to determine who will be shown a particular ad. For example, a hair salon may want to only target females aged 18-49. Many sites, like Facebook, collect demographic information for their users, enabling you to set precise filters for the audience you want to reach on that site.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting reaches consumers based on their online behaviors and interests. This display advertising technique uses data about consumers’ online behavior to categorize them into segments, such as “auto intender.”  For instance, if Bob has visited a number of auto research websites, then he could be segmented as an auto intender, and thus be shown your auto dealership ad on other sites he visits, such as a sports website.  And studies have shown that consumers are more receptive to behaviorally targeted ads compared to other types of targeting, like contextual targeting.

Endemic and Contextual Targeting

Also known as category-specific website targeting, endemic targeting displays your ad on websites that are relevant (or “endemic”) to your business.  For example, if you are a pet supply store, your ad might be shown on a pet-specific website, like Similarly, contextual targeting displays your ad on websites that contain content (such as an article or video) that is contextually related to your business.  With contextual targeting, your pet supply store ad may be displayed on a local news site next to an article about pet adoptions.  Google recently announced its Contextual Targeting Tool, which will allow you to build highly targeted keyword groups for your campaigns on the Google Display Network. 


Remarketing, also known as retargeting, displays your banner ad to consumers who have previously visited your website. This is an effective display advertising technique because, by visiting your site, those consumers have already shown a high interest in your products or services. Say Bob searches for a local car dealership, sees your text ad, and visits your website, but leaves without contacting you.  With remarketing, your ad continues to reach Bob as he surfs a variety of websites, such as online newspapers, his email client, entertainment sites, and more, keeping your business top of mind and ultimately bringing him back to your site to convert.

ReachLocal provides a wide range of display advertising offerings that combine these targeting techniques, enabling small businesses to reach the right audience online. To learn more about our ReachDisplay solutions, contact your ReachLocal representative or fill out our contact form.

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About the Author
Tamara Farley
helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal.


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