Computer Screen showing someone mousing over Google AdWords Help.One of the key strategies of effective digital marketing has worked its way into American political discourse as we move into the election year of 2020. The tactic and the buzzword is “micro-targeting” and Google recently announced it would ban the use of this sort of audience segmentation for political advertising.

The decision caused a political ruckus and some rare moments of bipartisan agreement over issues of free speech. What the hubub did do for digital marketers was shine a spotlight on a seemingly mundane tactic and underscore how valuable it is for businesses.

What Is Microtargeting?

 “The love child of predictive analytics and data insights” is one of the more colorful ways that’s been used to answer the question. A simpler way of putting it as that microtargeting is the online means of doing what marketers on any platform dream of doing—targeting information precisely to the people who want it and in a manner that they are most likely to respond positively too.

The ability of search engines to compile huge amounts of data regarding people’s interests (or at least the interests searched for by a particular IP address) has made this decidedly old-fashioned goal much more realistic and moved it to the cutting edge of digital marketing.

Let’s say you’re a local real estate company.  Your website offers readers valuable content and uses that to drive them to your Contact Us form, at which point they become a lead. At some point in the process, most readers are going to fall off before they enter their phone number, e-mail address and real estate needs to complete the conversion.

One facet of microtargeting is that you can segment your traffic by which particular pages users visited on the site, and then craft an ad to bring them to a specific landing page that will be more likely to facilitate the conversion. Google Ads terms this “retargeting” and you can easily configure your account to create a subset list within your Ads account.

But retargeting is limited to people who have already visited your website. You also want to reach a fresh audience. Google Ads has a tool called “Similar Audiences” which further allows you to reach out to people who have interests similar to that of your segmented marketing list. Here’s where Google’s unprecedented ability to track what people are doing online comes into play.

Let’s return to real estate company example. It’s true that you can and should run your ads based on people who are doing website visits that suggest they’re in the market for a new home. But this is not taking full advantage of what microtargeting offers.

You can also find out if these people prefer to get their information by reading articles or watching videos. You can tell if their tendency is to seek out quick summaries of the important information or if they want to take a deeper dive into the content. It might not be anything real-estate related that clues Google into this—perhaps it’s something as basic as how they consume information about the news, their favorite sports team or what the latest trends are in fine dining.

The point is that each online action tells us something about the nature of the person who performs it. A whole series of little “somethings” add up to a portrait of how a person is likely to be moved to action. And microtargeting is the means to get them to take that action—at the most efficient possible advertising spend.

Want to explore microtargeting for Google Ads? Contact us to find out how we can help.