Cost-per-click, Cost-per-action, Cost-per-installation–all of these online marketing methods are performance based, but which is best for your product?

Without proper targeting, you are losing precious time and budget. To optimize your online advertising, you must evaluate your goals for your product, and construct a fitting strategy. Here are some helpful considerations to guide your next targeted online advertising campaign.

What is Targeting?

Targeted advertising refers to the process of defining and reaching your ideal audience. Although this concept existed long before the rise of the internet and E-commerce, modern usage analytics and behavior tracking have taken targeted advertising to a new level of performance.

If you were a big B2C company in the old days (say, 1998), your targeted advertising decisions might have included defining which part of town to place your billboard advertisement.

Similar concepts guide today’s online targeted advertising, but the specifics have changed a great deal. Advertisements in the current online market offer amazing flexibility in terms of placement, duration, and appearance. If we applied modern targeting techniques to the billboard example, it would be like putting up your billboard every time a member of your audience walked up the street, only to take it down again after they walk by.

Paying for Performance

What is performance advertising? It refers to when an advertiser only pays for their ad when a potential buyer takes a specific action, like clicking on the ad, or making a purchase. It’s hard to find online advertising nowadays that doesn’t have some kind of performance requirements tied in.

But how do the advertisers know their ads are ‘performing’, that is, accomplishing their desired goal? For performance advertising to work, both the advertiser and the ad publisher need a great deal of tracking data at their disposal. The advertising network or publisher needs to show how and when users completed the action of clicking, or viewing, or otherwise engaging with the ad.

You can probably guess that this is not an easy task, and it’s one that can leave advertisers open to fraud. But as more players have a stake in the success of their digital ads, the faster the surrounding technology improves. Many of the world’s most successful companies make online performance advertising a centerpiece in their marketing plans.

Casting a Wide Net vs. Fishing With a Spear

Once you decide to take advantage of targeted performance marketing, you still have important decisions to make regarding the shape and scope of your campaign. No two targeted performance campaigns are the same.

One option is to set broad targeting categories, otherwise known as casting a wide net. This strategy may be more relevant to companies who don’t have a precise image of their target user, or they are targeting a very broad audience. They want to test various audiences and see how they compare.

Companies in this position also try out various performance strategies; Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Acquisition (CPA), and Cost per Lead (CPL) are all on the table, and may be used simultaneously.

Casting a wide net is closer to the first billboard example used earlier in this article. You show your ad to thousands of users in a few highly-trafficked areas, and see which billboard garners the most response. This marketing method is also useful for expanding your brand, as widely shown ads increase brand awareness across many demographics.

The other school of thought on targeting involves only showing your ad to a highly specific demographic. Instead of raking the ocean floor to see what comes up, selective targeting is more like standing in the shallows and fishing with a spear.

When you know exactly who is in the market for your product, you might not want to waste impressions on users with closed wallets. With some ad networks, advertisers can target users based on their age, location, interests, and that’s just the beginning. The top targeting networks can even select their audience based on what times of day users are in the mood to buy!

Performance Advertising 

Highly selective targeting also requires a stringent performance marketing strategy. Don’t be fooled by the fallacy that more expensive performance methods give better results. It’s true that Cost-per-engagement ‘guarantees’ in a sense that users get closer to your assets than a CPC ad, but the latter might still be more cost effective if you have a particularly appealing landing page or persuasive call-to-action.


Targeting is the crank that turns the gears of performance. Depending on your brand’s goals, you may cast a wide net to gain broad exposure, or you might hone in on a well-defined demographic.

Online marketing is giving advertisers an unprecedented amount of control over their performance campaigns. Evaluate your company’s advertising goals and choose a performance based advertising technique that will bring in the results.


What is the most effective performance advertising method for your business?


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