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Targeting Is the Key to Online Ads That Convert: How Far Will Google and Facebook Allow You to Go?

Both Facebook and Google have extensive advertising systems in place for business owners who want to reach their target audiences, but how far will these services allow their clients to go? Targeted advertising is only cost-effective when business owners are actually able to reach people that might buy their products, so this is an important question. Read on to find the answer.

Primary Differences Between Facebook and Google Ad Targeting

Google Ads allows business owners to target audiences based on their search intent, which means they can get ads in front of those Internet users who are actively searching for relevant products or services. Facebook, on the other hand, allows business owners to build specific audiences based on demographic information. Although neither of these strategies works as well as target email marketing when it comes to reaching customers, they can both be effective if used correctly.

How Google Ad Targeting Works

Business owners who use Google Ads pay for exposure, but the platform doesn’t decide which ads to show based on who paid the most. Instead, it focuses on the quality and relevance of ads. As a result, business owners who create relevant, high-quality, and well-optimized ads usually have to bid less than those with poor ad strategies. Needless to say, relevance is key.

Keyword Targeting

Since Google Ads use search information, not demographic information, to target consumers, business owners who want to come up with an effective strategy need to focus on keywords. Targeting some keywords costs more than others. Highly competitive keywords only produce a worthwhile return on investment (ROI) if business owners also have high-quality ads that sell products or services directly relevant to the keywords they are targeting.

Choosing Keywords

When choosing keywords, business owners need to think like their customers, which means they have to know their customers. There’s an important balance that must be maintained. Ads that target general keywords often cost more since the keywords are more competitive, while those that are too specific won’t be able to reach enough consumers. Business owners must walk a fine line if they want to drive traffic to their sites and improve their conversion rates.

How Facebook Ad Targeting Works

Facebook ads work a little differently. Instead of considering their average customer demographics and trying to guess what keywords might appeal to them, business owners can directly input demographic information to determine who gets to see the ads. A few years ago, Facebook removed religion and ethnicity from the list of demographics that business owners are allowed to target, but they still have plenty of options.

How Targeted Can Facebook Ads Be?

There’s no guesswork when it comes to targeting customers on Facebook. Business owners can create incredibly specialized demographic lists so only those most likely to purchase their products or services will see the ads, helping them keep spending to a minimum. Here are the demographics that can still be targeted:

  • Location targeting allows business owners to reach everyone currently living in or traveling in a location or everyone who has recently lived there.
  • Age targeting lets business owners set the upper and lower limits of who they want to see their ads by stated age.
  • Gender targeting allows them to display ads only to men or women, or to both.
  • Language targeting is used only when the ads are in languages uncommon in the targeted location.
  • Income targeting is actually a form of location targeting. It shows ads to users based on the average household income of their zip codes.
  • Work targeting lets business owners show ads only to employers vs employees and lets them narrow down their target audience by their field of employment.
  • Education Level targeting allows users to narrow down target audiences by education level, school, or field of study.
  • Political targeting lets them reach only liberals, conservatives, moderates, or those likely to engage in political discourse.
  • Life Events targeting shows consumers ads on major anniversaries, moves, and other events like entering into a new relationship or traveling away from their hometowns.
  • Parents will be shown ads based on the age of their children.

A Step Beyond

Facebook doesn’t stop at demographic targeting. Ad creators can also narrow down their audiences based on their interests, activities, and what pages they have liked. This lets users target workers in specific businesses or industries, consumers who show a preference for a certain type of clothing or other products, those interested in certain subjects or engaged in certain hobbies or activities, and more.
Facebook Ads can also be targeted based on user behavior. Factors that fall into this category include consumer classification, digital activities, purchase behavior, travel, affinities, ex-pat status, and even how users access Facebook.

How to Choose a Target Audience

Needless to say, narrowing down a target audience for Facebook ads can be a difficult undertaking. Most business owners have some idea of who their target demographics are, but it’s rare for anyone to cover each of these subjects.
While highly specialized ads will provide a better ROI, they can also exclude potential customers who don’t fall into one of the categories listed above or just don’t have that information on their Facebook profiles. The best thing for business owners who want to use Facebook ads to do is to find a balance between specialization and generalized ads that reaches the most potential customers for the least money.

The Bottom Line

Google and Facebook are very different platforms with very different intended uses. It should come as no surprise that business owners who want to take advantage of their advertising services must keep that in mind. Most business owners find that the best approach to digital marketing is not to choose one platform, but to divide their attention between Facebook, Google, and more direct methods of reaching potential customers like email marketing. That way, they’ll be sure to have all their bases covered and can get a better idea of which works best for their unique business models.

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