How you can do better targeting Targeting list & target marketing

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Christian Waske, May 11, 2019

How you can do better targeting Targeting list & target marketing

Reading time: 6 minutes

As soon as we place online advertising for our customers, one thing has already happened in advance: The target group has been precisely defined. Groups of people reached by Google Ads banners are not randomly selected, but the result of a targeting process. 

Target marketing means dividing your target market into segments and focusing on specific key segments that best predict the target customer most likely to match your product or service offering. 

Thus, targeting is a key to winning new business, increasing your sales and contributing to the success of your business. In addition, it is easy on the budget, as only those people who come into question as potential customers are addressed, and those who consider our advertising banners to be - for themselves - of little interest are excluded.


A practice for physiotherapy in Munich offers home massages in addition to the classic, therapeutic services. Now the practice is free to advertise this offer with a newspaper insert that goes to everyone who receives the relevant newspaper. Similarly, once the target market for its services has been identified, the physio practice can target the desired market with a Google Ads banner campaign, a flyer delivery that goes only to residents in a specific area, or a Facebook ad that targets customers in a specific geographic area, increasing the return on investment for marketing - and attracting more customers.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have sophisticated options that allow companies to target users by market segment. For example, a hotel targets married Facebook fan page followers in Munich and the surrounding area who want to spend a wellness weekend with their partners, while a pastry bakery prefers singles who live within a 3km radius of the salesroom. 

In the following, we present the most relevant targeting bullets, which we work on together with you in order to place successful advertising in the long term. 

Demographic segmentation

Demographic grouping is based on measurable statistics, such as:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income level
  • Marital status
  • Training
  • Religion  

Demographic segmentation is usually the most important criterion for identifying target markets, so knowing demographic information is critical for many companies.

A beverage distributor, for example, would be well advised to base its marketing efforts on the results of statistics indicating that men drink more beer than women and beer is the beverage of choice for people under 50. 

Geographical segmentation

Geographic segmentation involves segmenting the market by location. Private addresses are an example of this. However, depending on the scale of your business, this may be the case:

  • Neighborhood
  • Postal code
  • Area code
  • City
  • Province/State
  • Region
  • Country (if your company is international)

Geographic segmentation is based on the notion that consumer groups in a particular geographic area may have specific product or service needs, e.g., a private winter maintenance company may focus its marketing efforts on a particular village or subdivision of a city government.

Relevance of the combination of geographic and demographic segmentation

The importance of targeting for budgeting an advertising campaign of any kind is illustrated by examples that require a combination of geographic and demographic segmentation. 

Let's take a look at the marketing of a car dealership that wants to sell a family SUV from a luxury manufacturer. The customer group is therefore made up of people who have a certain income and children. It follows that advertising the vehicle in a residential area where mainly low-income singles over 50 live is not a worthwhile investment. Furthermore, the factors of income and family alone can be used to define regions and districts in which corresponding campaigns reach the desired target group. 

Psychographic segmentation

Psychographic segmentation divides the target market according to socioeconomic class as well as personality or lifestyle preferences. The socioeconomic scale ranges from the affluent and highly educated at the top to the uneducated and educationally disadvantaged at the bottom of the social hierarchy. These groups are further assigned correlated values, values, beliefs, interests, etc. 

Separate from this, but falling into psychographic targeting, are distinctions between audiences who prefer an urban versus a rural or suburban lifestyle, or those who support animal welfare or have a strong interest in environmental issues.

Psychographic segmentation is based on the theory that the decisions people make when buying goods or services are an expression of their lifestyle habits or socioeconomic class. Thus, for example, links can be made between certain supermarkets and income, education level and marital status. - Here, too, various targeting aspects combine. 

Technical targeting

If a client decides to place online advertising, further segmentations are necessary in addition to those just mentioned in order to optimally narrow down and reach the target group. 

Keyword targeting

Every veteran of online marketing knows keyword targeting. You select a keyword and your ad appears in corresponding queries on a search engine and, if set, on related websites when the corresponding keyword is present. This type of targeting is available both in Google search itself and on partner sites (sites that use AdSense).

Keyword targeting has several suboptions. These are called match types. When you enter a keyword, you select an appropriate match type. They range from broad to exact to negative.

Wide match: Here, all word strings that use the keyword are used. The keyword "red pumps" appears in searches for "red shoes", "blue pumps" and "red pumps dangerous". You can change this with a + in front of certain keywords to make sure they are included. So "+red +pumps" would not mention "red shoes" because it does not contain the word "shoes".

Phrase match: In this case, all results that use the exact phrase are displayed. The keyword "red pumps" will be displayed when searching for "red pumps", "where to buy red pumps", "I love red pumps" and other search queries.

Exact match: At this point, we are only concerned with queries with the exact keyword, without including complements; i.e. the keyword "red pumps" displays ads for the query "red pumps" and nothing else.

Negative match: Any query that does not contain the keyword is relevant to our selection. This is best used for additional keywords. For example, the keyword "red pumps" with the modifier "-ugly" would show ads for queries like "red pumps test", but not "ugly red pumps". A list of negative keywords is handy for a narrow, useful ad.

Google will take into account slight variations in keywords by default. Basically, "red pumps" and "red pumps" would be the same query.

Location targeting

Location targeting allows you to serve your ads only on queries that come from specific areas. It also allows you to exclude certain areas. For example, you set your ads to be seen only by users in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. You can also set a global ad and force it to exclude Asia completely.

There are almost no limits to the fine-tuning here. You can specify countries, states, provinces, cities, counties, zip codes, and even congressional districts. Select a location, and Google offers suggestions for other locations. You choose whether to add, exclude, or place each location "nearby." Proximity essentially gives a fuzzy boundary around the location, so users who are appropriately nearby but not exactly active within that location count toward the target audience.

Location targeting is preceded by geographic segmentation. 

Language targeting

Language targeting allows you to select languages to include or exclude in queries. For the default German Google Ads, the default is to limit to German queries only. You choose whether you want to add English, French or even other languages. For example, it is possible for a European company to include the main languages of Europe. 

Device targeting

Device targeting allows you to restrict your ads so that they only appear on certain devices. Typically, this is the gap between PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, or the convergence of these devices. 

You can also set the targeting of the device based on the location of the device or the time of day. For example, this lets you target ads to PCs during working hours and mobile ads outside working hours.

Device targeting is followed by the selection of appropriate banner sizes and designs, as we describe in the article on Google Ads banners (insert LINK here). Device targeting, on the other hand, is preceded by segmenting the demographics of the target group. For example, if you want to target primarily young people or commuters, defining the smartphone as the advertising medium is strongly recommended. 

According to the device targeting, you should also pay attention to the operating system. Operating system targe ting becomes necessary as soon as you want to market an app or software in general. The question of the income of the respective target group can also be determined more closely on the basis of the operating system. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (LINK:, the iPhone is considered the(!) status symbol for wealth. At the same time, the purchase price of Apple products alone indicates a certain income group. 

Contextual targeting

Contextual targeting is only available on Google partner sites, not on Google Search itself. Essentially, it allows you to display your ad on sites based on topics you choose. If you choose to have your ads displayed on sites that cover the topic of "hiking", your ad would be displayed on any number of sites that use AdSense and partner with Google.

Google does not allow website owners to specify the topics of their websites, in the sense that this is not the only determining factor. Google itself scans each website and determines relevant topics based on their own internal factors. This ensures that your ads appear on sites that are truly about your chosen topics, not sites that just check a box about your topic but generate little related traffic.

Topic Targeting

Similar to contextual targeting, topic targeting allows you to specify numerous topics for a given ad at the same time, rather than being limited to one topic and Google's automatic placement algorithm.

Placement targeting

Similar to the previous two types of targeting, placement targeting requires you to create a list of approved websites, videos, and apps for which your ads will be displayed. You manage this list in AdWords and change it at any time as you wish.

Closing words

The key to success lies in intensive preparation and clear definition of the target group. In this way, you can contain wastage and generate sustainable, data-driven, evaluable marketing processes in order to communicate with your desired customer group in the long term and get them excited about your products and services.

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Christian Waske

Managing Director & CRO expert

Christian is Managing Director of Golden Web Age GmbH and an expert in search engine optimization. With his knowledge, he has already been able to place many well-known companies on page 1 of Google.

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