Back in the day, marketers and companies would trade information on customers to companies that audience was likely to be interest in. A car magazine like Car and Driver or Hot Rod, for example, would sell their subscription lists to companies that sold auto parts, specialized in more diverse forms of car insurance or racing organizations. It was the beginning of a practice that has evolved into one of the most cutting-edge forms of marketing in the history of advertising: Targeted Advertising.
Today, instead of trading subscriber or memberships lists, companies mine for data on a website’s audience in order to target ads carefully and, hopefully, increase their ROI on campaigns. Several websites, including Facebook and Google search, have been using specifically targeted ads for a awhile now and the practice is picking up speed. Considering the sheer amount of data which can be collected based on everything from buying to browsing habits, there are real concerns about privacy. As a result, targeting advertising has been at the heart of an ongoing debate as to how much data should be collected, stored and sold without notifying people.
Still, controversies aside, targeted advertising has proven itself as an extremely marketing method for companies all over the world. For the most part it has been used by huge companies since developing and managing targeted advertising required teams of people for development, implementation and analysis. But all that may be about to change as one website has developed a suite of tools to create targeting advertising anyone can use.
Recently, Linkedin announced their own options for professionals and businesses looking to improve their ROI not only on campaigns, but also on their use of the website itself. The program, called Matched Audiences, offers three different tools to engage audiences and promote specific campaigns.
- Account Targeting: Market to Influencers and Decision Makers at your Target Accounts – Want to make the most out of your own customer or client database and the more 8 million company pages on LinkedIn? Then Account Targeting is for you. Load up your CSV file and have it matched against existing LinkedIn pages and profiles. Once that’s done you can create specific groups for major influencers and decision makers with certain companies or industries.
- Contact Targeting: Engage Prospects and Contacts on LinkedIn – Once you’ve identified, targeted and marketed for specific audiences, it’s time to get them engaged. The best marketing or advertising campaigns become a conversation with clients instead of just something they take in passively. The Contact Targeting tool is another way for you to deliver sponsored and original content directly to your entire customer base.
Targeted marketing options have historically been tools only available to larger companies with the financial and staff resources to develop and manage it effectively. These simple, user-friendly and company oriented options rolled out by LinkedIn could very well change that perception for good. Now, any business – large or small – will be able to develop targeted audiences and specifically focused campaigns and original content designed to interest, engage and ultimately convert.