Targeting online ads: aim for the bulls-eye or focus on hitting the target?

Among the significant and distinct attributes of online advertising is its ability to deliver relevant messages to specific targets.

Targeting Online Ads: Aim for the Bulls-eye or Focus on Hitting the Target?

Duncan Southgate

To reach the right person with the right message at the right time is the holy grail of advertising. Theoretically, it seems that the targeting capabilities of online advertising—which include demographic, contextual, and behavioral options—would make that goal consistently attainable. But in reality, the precision promised by online targeting cannot always be delivered on a scale that's large enough for major advertisers. As a result, to obtain their desired levels of reach, advertisers sometimes adopt “mass-market” techniques such as homepage takeovers of major sites. These...

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