Social Targeting Basics & the Peeping Tom Dilemma

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Advertisers are always looking for new ways to better reach their desired audiences. Semantic targeting is one way we’ve discussed (In Online Advertising, Placement is All Semantics—or Should Be).

Social targeting is another.

With Walmart’s recent acquisition of OneRiot, there’s been a lot of talk lately about social targeting. So, I thought we’d take a closer look.

Social targeting is based on conversations and interactions in the social media space. Segmenting factors include audience interest profiles, demographics, social influence, real-time conversations and more.

Ad publishers use data such as status updates, tweets, photos and other online postings to help determine the user’s interests and, therefore, determine the relevance of potential ads targeting that user.

The idea is that, as Glen Calvert says, “understanding what consumers are sharing, who the influencers are, and who they connected to, provides advertisers with an opportunity to reach consumers implicitly interested in their products, and discover new audiences based on their social connections.”

No doubt, with the continued growth of online social media and interactions, social targeting will be of terrific use in the coming years, especially in mobile advertising.

One problem I see is that, unlike semantic targeting, social targeting is still cookie based. The online space is a public arena, but many people still aren’t comfortable with the creepy “peeping Tom” nature of cookie-based advertising methods.

The question is: Will people finally give up and accede to less privacy and more cookie tracking, or will there be a sort of consumer privacy revolt that pushes advertisers to use the more consumer-friendly semantic targeting?

One thing is for sure, the ad publishing space will be interesting to watch. And we’ll keep you up to date on it right here.

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