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Welcome Happy Readers! Host Julie F Bacchini sought PPCers thoughts on the complexity of targeting in PPC, how specific their targeting is in paid search and paid social, do they have any criteria which help them to decide who should they be targeting and more. Here is the screencap of this week’s PPCChat session.

Q1: What are your thoughts/how do you feel generally about targeting in PPC? Is it simple? Complex? Harder now? A level of sorcery you wish you could fully unlock?

I’ll go with “A level of sorcery you wish you could fully unlock?” @dan_patterson

We’re losing control over keyword targeting (due to broad matching of everything), but we can layer audiences etc, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag. @stevegibsonppc

All of these things. It depends on how specific the client needs it to be and which platform they want it on. @ynotweb

I definitely think it’s harder. I also think its mainly due to the information (or lack there of) of the information that we get from the client. If we knew more about who the target audience is – we would be able to target better. @TheMarketingAnu

I think targeting is harder lately. We have been so used to being able to control to a pretty fine level who or what we were targeting. Now it is a lot squishier all the way around, whether it is keyword or audience type targeting. @NeptuneMoon

However, seeing what’s happening with facebook, which is rapidly becoming – trust us we’ll handle the targeting because privacy – I’m not ready for this to be turned over to the machines. @armondhammer

It has become very clear to me that G has really improved its targeting over time. It’s harder than ever, but if you get it right it can really unlock major power. It’s clear where they’re putting their effort. @armondhammer

I would say it’s more complex than it used to be. there are lots of options, but we’ve also lost a lot of visibility. and easy cross-channel attribution? fairy tale. @JuliaVyse

I will say that some Google changes have made it more difficult and we’ve had to make adjustments to previously working audiences lately. @ynotweb

More competition makes it harder and competitive. There is data to help get ideas around who to target: Audience Insights Google Analytics Reading Customer Review …YouTube is always the harder one to crack. @duanebrown

Pretty excited to use Comscore & Oracle for Contextual targeting and 3rd Party data providers like Eyeota, Axioma etc for Audience Targeting. @PPC_Reddy

Try explaining to clients which discovery ad worked best when all you can see is cross channel @tevenall

Different platforms have different strengths. Knowing which platforms are more useful to reach certain audiences is a crucial starting point. @jord_stark

Sometimes easier, sometimes harder depending on the audience and the targeting methods. I still don’t trust interest-based audiences very much on any platform. @SEMFlem

PPC targeting has been getting messier as platforms remove/update targeting on a whim. There are still ways to control it but you have to know what you’re doing. @ValenciaSEM

It differs on platform. On Facebook I use both interests, custom lists, Look a likes and demographics. This is because with the loss of data due to IOS 14.5, it is more important to have prospecting audiences and customer list. @tiffanyjshears

PPC Targeting is easy to learn, yet hard to master. The basics is easy to understand (keywords, negatives, location, device, demographics). Learning how audiences and remarketing lists work is slightly harder. Understanding Performance Max is impossible. @C_J_Ridley

Q2: How specific is your targeting in paid search? What are you using – keywords, audiences, custom lists, dynamic search features, etc.? Why do you use what you use?

I get pretty specific. Lots of my programs are aimed at just one region, so we slice and dice to avoid overlap. it gets pretty wild! Keywords + audiences + dynamic. No custom lists for public sector, but pretty cool isolations if I do say so myself. @JuliaVyse

E. All of the above. (usually in most cases) at one point in another in the sales cycle. @jord_stark

I’m a huge advocate for combined audiences of any form. In a lot of cases, I’ll take a target of competitor and add it to an interest or market. It helps with both performance and messaging. @armondhammer

Never forget the ability to sequence awareness creative. You can add a whole layer of behaviour by sequencing YouTube videos before the Viewers Who Have Seen audience is added to search. @JuliaVyse

I am hanging on to trying to be more specific in my targeting in search for as long as I’m able to! Keywords first w/ audiences layered over that. Been using more dynamic search ads in accounts lately too. I wish you could target AND observe audiences in G Ads…@NeptuneMoon

It depends. I get granular where it makes sense, but there’s a trade-off between granularity and how quickly/often you can split-test ads. @stevegibsonppc

Generally in GAds I use phrase and exact keywords but sometimes layer in audiences on observation.. but i’ve never been like WOW these audiences are doing things…@rachel_lowell

Including social PPC in here too – I do often get frustrated by targeting on social. There’s a lot of “people like” that should just be “people that” I’ve had well built targets that were 99% expansion, and 1% the actual target. @armondhammer

I do most based on intent, affinity groups, and keywords. We are making more custom audiences. I’ve had bad experiences with some types so I tend to shy away from the types I don’t have good data on. @ynotweb

I have been using more dynamic search ads because I feel like it gives me a little more insight into how G Ads views my client and their offerings. @NeptuneMoon

I tend to get pretty granular in my targeting for paid search, but it’s always backed by performance. I try to test everything, but most dynamic features don’t tend to perform well. @ValenciaSEM

All those options as they work well with DTC and ecom clients. Not all work with every client but we test all and keep what works/client. @duanebrown

I sometimes use keywords, I sometimes use targeting audiences in search. It all depends on the performance of the account and what wolds best. I would like to use custom audiences more, this is a newish feature that I am still learning. @tiffanyjshears

The level of targeting varies between accounts due to budget, available data & account size. Most are using keywords, exclusions/negatives, audiences, remarketing, bid adjustments or smart bidding in Google Ads.  @C_J_Ridley

It depends, we used all of the above I would say mostly KWs, audiences, custom lists – we use these because they are easy and fairly reliable so far again looking at CTR as an indicator our ads resonate with the searches. @runnerkik

Q3: How specific is your targeting in paid social? What are you using – interests, demographics, custom lists, lookalikes, etc.? Does it differ by platform? Why do you use what you use?

It differs by platform, but we generally use all of the above. When it comes to particular channels, I look at overall audiences and goals. Start with the target you want and work from there. @JuliaVyse

I feel like the only useful target is lookalike on FB anymore if you do some additional qualifiers. On Twitter – I do a lot of follower and keyword targeting. It varies greatly in effectiveness. @armondhammer

With Social we get as specific as possible. Geo and many demographics usually. Lookalikes when we have a tight audience that is a proven winner. @ynotweb

Depends on the client, but usually a combination of all of those. I would say interests are a FB strength, uploaded audiences and lookalikes across the board, and demographics are on a client to client basis. @jord_stark

Try to be as specific as possible, but it is getting harder with less data available to social networks. Having a customer list of some kind has become a lot more important to use as the seed for other targeting options on social. @NeptuneMoon

The loss of Store Traffic reporting on FB basically took away my ability to report on my particular conversions. so it’s a lot of reach/awareness, then on to search for actual conversions. for a small biz advocate (hah!) FB sure does hate brick and mortar. @JuliaVyse

We see interest targeting work better than broad or lookalike with some clients. Not a one size fits all type situation. Especial when looking at Snap & TikTok vs big blue. @duanebrown

On FB I do go specific, Look a likes and demographics. This is because with the loss of data due to IOS 14.5, it is more important to have prospecting audiences and customer list. I also like to have some control rather than rely completely on AI @tiffanyjshears

I think you have to be more specific in your targeting for paid social, especially because their is so many more targeting options and pitfalls. @ValenciaSEM

Using almost all of them. Additionally integrating with 3rd party data providers for more detailed targeting. @PPC_Reddy

Q4: On average, how good or confident do you feel that you’re currently targeting the “right” people with your paid search ads? Why?

By and large, I think I am. we have a really good baseline that we can regularly test against. here’s to building on consistency and clarity! @JuliaVyse

(Because I’m clearly psychic) – The data guides as always. And based upon that data it varies widely. I often find that it gives the machine a head start if I hit on targeting, but it isn’t always clear what wins. So confidence is a coinflip. @armondhammer

I think that I am with the qualifier that sometimes information from the client end can be incomplete. I feel like my ability to target well is tied to client feedback about what they are seeing. Also, have some situations where client idea of who to target is off. @NeptuneMoon

If it’s KW targeting I usually feel pretty good about it. If I can exclude past converters, even better. As long as the search terms reflect the right intent, I feel like I am in the right ballpark. @jord_stark

I shared this in a thread yesterday (which partially inspired today’s topic) – sometimes the client has either a misguided idea as to who their customers actually or and/or a gigantic blind spot to their actual or potential customers. That can be challenging. @NeptuneMoon

We’re usually confident about it, until proven otherwise LOL #ppcchat but seriously, we try to have the data to back our choices when possible. It gets harder when the client requests a VERY specific target, because generally its not always possible with their platform. @ynotweb

I’m not sure I think like this. The ads are shown to a basket of people. We have some control over who is in that basket and who isn’t. But it’s always going to be a mix or relevant & not. After that, it’s just whether or not you want to show ads to that basket. @stevegibsonppc

95% as we feel nothing is perfect can can always better. We are hitting KPIs and scaling paid search when we can: either in current country or opening new countries with our international clients. @duanebrown

8/10. Performance Max, changes to keyword matching & the black box that is PerforMax are casting uncertainty on some elements of my strategies. Luckily, we have more search term data now & we’ll hopefully soon get more exclusion settings within PerforMax campaigns. @C_J_Ridley

I’m pretty confident I’m targeting the right people with paid search, but I think there are some leakage that occurs. However, I feel like sometimes its just a type of fraudulent traffic. @ValenciaSEM

Q5: On average, how good or confident do you feel that you’re currently targeting the “right” people with your paid social ads? Why?

Pretty confident, but again, my public sector goals might be a bit niche compared to the standard website conversions we’re used to. @JuliaVyse

In contrast to A4, this answer to social targeting is “never”. Just don’t trust the audiences provided in social. As someone else mentioned, many times it might be 10% of the target and 90% “expansion” which is a crap shoot. @ynotweb

I will say that the tools can be better on social sometimes. Social stalking can actually help build an actionable profile to target, or looking at external tools to do it at scale. Ironically, the actual targeting is often worse. @armondhammer

Given the recent lack of data and clarity, (I’m looking at you FB) and the general state of the burning garbage that is that ad platform. I don’t hope for much but I am pleasantly surprised some of the time. So not great I guess @jord_stark

Hard to give a number. Clients are seeing revenue boom and nothing major has changed but we are always looking at ad manager, GA and Motion data to see what is working and testing new ideas & targeting @duanebrown

I feel that paid social is more of a moving target than in Google Ads, especially with what’s gone down @StephsNextPage

The targeting intent is different in paid social. That being said, I know I’m targeting the right people but I’m also targeting some of the wrong people too. This is where we have some targeting limitations from social to search. @ValenciaSEM

Q6: Do your clients or stakeholders have incorrect or misguided ideas about who their actual or potential customer base actually is? How do you know it’s not right? What do you do in this situation?

We are blessed with a majority of clients being in business a while– they actually have a pretty good handle on their customer bases. Its the newer businesses or the ones that simply haven’t paid attention in the past that miss the mark. @ynotweb

I always challenge clients’s assumptions about who their customers are. I want to see their data for myself. Then I want to explore who else might be great customers together and test, test, test! @NeptuneMoon

Sometimes. But that’s often something that, once I ask a few questions, they realise they need me to figure it out for them. @stevegibsonppc

Oh absolutely, all the time and very much in retail. Many times a brand thinks they are high end or runway they are actually teenager brands (remember the Return to Tiffany’s collection…that heart chain). But yes, I guess you kind of laugh inside… @runnerkik

Some do. Paid social can be good to help test customer audiences. Reading more reviews to see who is buying. As a business grows revenue, their business expands and includes new people who weren’t buying 2 years ago. @duanebrown

We tend to lean into testing for conversations like these. It’s sometimes a matter of teams having competing priorities, it might be legacy ideas. The main thing is to challenge with data and testing, with measurements everyone agrees on. @JuliaVyse

The audience reports in GA and GAds are woefully underused. Pull up the whole audience for a site and compare to converters. It’s eye opening. And we already have that data @armondhammer

Cont…seriously this is very common with brands, and it isn’t always a problem…I think that is the key, it can be a perk. This is why being a marketer vs just a specialist is so important. sometimes we have a view working online that traditional media doesn’t @runnerkik

To my knowledge, 90% of the time my clients are correct about their target audiences. It’s mostly the newer businesses that either misjudge how their brand and service are perceived or didn’t realise how different a digital audience can differ to an IRL audience. @C_J_Ridley

None of my current clients have misguided ideas about their customer base. In the past some clients thought that everyone was a potential customer, they’re not. Its easy to find by looking at the current customer data and finding where the $ is coming from @ValenciaSEM

Happens mostly in Contextual targeting (Keyword Targeting). Most clients don’t understand the difference between search kwds vs display kwds. Most of them suggest to add search terms with higher impressions to contextual. Grave mistake. @PPC_Reddy

Q7: What kind of data points do you use to help determine who you should be targeting and how to actually reach them?

We have proprietary data to start with (i’m spoiled I know). Then ComScore for overall platform use – Pinterest users are different than Instagrammers. Then into planner tools and budget allocations. It’s a bit theoretical/tinkering, but it works! @JuliaVyse

SQRs – search terms, ctr, conversions and in an ideal world paths from landing page or landing page experience to help if you do any type of CRO. @runnerkik

Now, what goes into all those tools? first In-Market then Interested then Affinity once you have that built, you can start and get into LaLs and lists from there. @JuliaVyse

I start with the client’s existing customer list, company reviews / public opinion for SWOT and learn about their products/services, what pain points they solve and their USPs. @C_J_Ridley

Whatever data client has (this varies wildly). Search query reports, demographic reports in platform or analytics, competitor research (you can reverse engineer more than you think!). I am also a fan of social listening to gather intel. @NeptuneMoon

So my A6 is also an A7 answer (I’m going full medium right now). Also use things like sparktoro, my programmatic platform, and anything else that I can find. Used to use Klout @armondhammer

The #1 way and most don’t do it is talking to customers by phone, in person and letting them tell you who they are and why they buy. No data in any analytics platform will replace that. @duanebrown

I’ll look at all data points to determine who we should and shouldn’t be targeting. Start with the end goal and work your way backwards to where you have a plentiful amount of data to make a clear decision on who your target audience is. @ValenciaSEM

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