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Targeted online advertising is an approach to advertising and marketing in an online environment with an eye toward connecting with specific markets or groups of consumers. Like most types of differentiated marketing, the idea is to determine which approaches to online advertising will make it possible to reach the right consumers and increase the possibility of generating sales revenue. As more companies have learned to integrate Internet advertising into their overall ad campaigns, many of the strategies used in targeted advertising using older forms of media have been adapted for use in targeted online campaigns.
There are a number of tools that can be used as part of a targeted online advertising campaign. One of the most common is the design and content of web pages, either as part of a company web site or as a splash page that ultimately points back to the web site. Here, the focus is often on the visual appeal of the pages, using graphics that are likely to resonate with certain demographics of consumers. In conjunction with the look of the pages, care is taken to use text that will allow the pages to rank highly when consumers conduct online searches using certain keywords or key phrases.
In addition to web sites and splash pages, another tool that is commonly employed with targeted online advertising is the banner ad. Ads of this type may be static, meaning the graphics and text do not change, or active, meaning that they do change as the ad is viewed. The creation of these ads will also consider the consumer group the advertiser is trying to reach, using both text and visuals to create an attractive ad. Placement of the ads is also important, in that the advertiser wants to make sure the banner ads are displayed on web sites that are of interest to the targeted consumers, and have some relevance to the products the company is trying to sell.
Email campaigns are also a resource used in targeted online advertising. While there is debate on the use of this electronic version of direct mail pieces that are distributed by post, many companies will purchase and use email address listings that are considered qualified. This means that the owners of those addresses have agreed to receive solicitations by way of electronic mail. The effectiveness of email campaigns is debated, with some claiming they work very well while others preferring to focus on other methods.
With any strategy involved with targeted online advertising, the goal is to connect with the right consumers and convert them into customers. The exact combination of methods used will vary, based on the characteristics of the target market or markets. Today, many advertising agencies include targeted online advertising along with other advertising strategies in the campaigns offered to their clientele. As the use of the Internet continues to grow globally, there is no doubt that this type of advertising campaign will also grow in importance.