From Context to Carts: Best Practices in Targeting Shoppers for Holiday 2018

From Context to Carts: Best Practices in Targeting Shoppers for Holiday 2018

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The holidays are moving in fast, and retailers are looking for ways to maximize digital marketing efforts to make this their best season ever. Access to cutting-edge technology and high-quality data has been improved in recent years, so hopes are high. Marketers are eager to drive sales with transparent, accountable campaigns. However, with ad tech moving so quickly, marketers may not yet know how exactly to use these new tools to their best advantage.

Best practices have changed with the times, and there are new, incredibly effective audience targeting strategies that retailers may not even know or understand — but that could have a tremendous positive impact on holiday campaigns. These should be considered “new best practices” for digital marketers, particularly those who use programmatic advertising. I’ll endeavor to clearly (albeit briefly) explain so you begin to understand how these new targeting methods can help you reach and engage new shoppers right when they're most likely to convert.

  • Sentiment targeting: This new flavor of contextual targeting leverages semantic analysis to verify that you’re not advertising on a page that engages users who may have negative feelings about your brand or product. A classic example might be a fast-food burger chain advertising on a site for vegans. Just because the page features the words “beef’ and “burger” doesn’t mean it’s the right place for your message! This new type of targeting allows brand to actively seek out users and inventory that have shown a positive affinity toward your message.
  • Page quality targeting: Quality is a huge issue for brands, especially when holiday budgets are stretched to their max. It seems like there are more click-bait links leading to ad-filled pages than ever before. Even when the content itself seems decent, the sheer number of ads makes advertising on these pages a poor investment. Ensure you’re not wasting budget on inventory that’s already flooded with too many ads by using page quality targeting in order to make every impression count.
  • Page relevance targeting: Contextual targeting in its most basic form has been around for ages, but page relevance targeting takes it beyond the phrases adjacent to your ad. It empowers you as an advertiser to be sure you’re targeting content that’s actually relevant to your topic based on semantic analysis, not just keywords. For example, if you’re marketing Captain America action figures this holiday season, you’ll want your ads on a page that’s actually about toys and mentions collectible figurines, rather than a brief reference to say, captains, America or film theory.
  • Location history: Beyond contextual targeting, location targeting is very powerful. Don’t be fooled into thinking location is just for brick-and-mortar retail marketers. You can learn a lot about shoppers from where they go — it becomes a solid proxy for behavior. Knowing, for example, that a woman goes to a daycare center every morning, then to work, to the gym and then back to daycare can provide a lot of insight into her life and the things she may want and need.

All of these new targeting methods can help retail marketers get an edge on the competitive holiday shopping season. In these months where every big retailer is investing millions in TV and digital, smaller retailers can still win new customers by targeting strategically. Consider these new targeting strategies part of your new set of best practices through the holiday season and beyond, and you’re likely to see a positive impact when Q1 rolls around.

Stephanie Denevan is director of client services, AUDIENCEX, an advertising technology and marketing company that delivers end-to-end digital solutions for brands and agency partners.

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