2012: The Year Of Ad Targeting

While 2012 isn’t entirely behind us just yet, many exciting things have happened in the digital space over the last twelve months that will have an impact on advertising in the New Year. Ad targeting has played a tremendous role in online advertising, and we have the abundance of available data to thank for this.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples of what might have added to this momentum:

Facebook Went Public

In an effort to expand its reach and drum up additional revenue, the social networking giant went public in May. And what is Facebook comprised of? That’s right, data and inventory. These two advertising commodities have become the talk of 2012.

The recent introduction of the Facebook Ad Exchange (FBX) represents a huge opportunity for advertisers to apply their own audience data to a huge selection of inventory that was previously not available. Display advertising is broadly made up of equal parts (in terms of time spent on sites) e-commerce, social and content. Therefore, being able to bid on Facebook inventory using your own data effectively adds 50% to the available biddable impressions.


In 2012, ad buyers paid close attention to ads that were not seen by consumers. When companies are purchasing through ad exchanges, they aren’t sure of the exact ad placement. This means ads could be above the fold or below the fold, seen or not seen.

There’s talk of making viewable impressions the new metric for display. This would mean a shift from impressions served to impressions seen. It has been reported that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) will replace the current impressions served-based metric with viewability in early 2013.

It will be interesting to watch how publishers react to this change. At the end of the day, the digital industry should do what they can to increase confidence with the brands – they want to know that their ad is served on safe sites, and that it is seen by their target consumer.


What caused someone to search for a product in the first place? Since a customer views ads multiple times before making a purchase, which ad should be credited with the eventual purchase? And, as importantly, did any of the other ads assist in the conversion?

In a digital world where every ad channel is measurable, determining what the data says about the causes of conversion is at the top of every marketer’s mind. An increasing number of both agencies and brands are now tapping search and site retargeting, along with booming ad channels across social, mobile and video.

With all of these new ways to advertise a product or service, it’s no wonder that attribution is such a hot topic.

The Presidential Election

This year, the biggest event in the U.S. has been November’s presidential election. New strategies were used to reach voters, and ad targeting was at the forefront. Both candidates were able to target voters based on a wide variety of factors including voting record and party affiliation, as well as other demographics.

The Obama administration ultimately used targeting most effectively by sharing the right message with the right voters, and leaving the Romney camp unable to capitalize on the President’s weaknesses. There has not been a president re-elected in such a weak economy with such high unemployment since FDR.

As marketers plan to finalize budgets and strategies for 2013, they should keep in mind the reasons for which ad targeting has been so successful in 2012.

There has been tremendous growth in the volume and breadth of data and quality inventory available across ad channels. As a result, ad targeting is a popular tool that is likely here to stay. I’m looking forward to watching how the digital space will continue to evolve in 2013, and how ad targeting will continue to affect the industry.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column


About The Author: is chief executive officer at search retargeting leader Magnetic charged with driving overall company expansion and building out Magnetic’s search retargeting infrastructure.

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