Are You A Parent? Google Wants To Know


Segmentation Targeting PositioningGoogle is beginning to trial parental targeting for display ads, enabling advertisers to target their ads based on parental status. With the new feature, advertisers running display campaigns through Adwords will able to select 'parent', 'non-parent', or 'unknown' when setting their ad targeting.
The feature is only available to a select handful of advertisers in the US, with no official comment from Google on an international rollout, but it has got us thinking about what this means for advertisers, and indeed what it means for web users.

Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning

Despite being the backbone of marketing planning, segmentation, targeting and positioning have traditionally been hard to get right, with advertisers accepting that a certain proportion of those seeing their ads will not be interested in their product. Digital advertising has improved this situation.
Through Adwords, display advertisers can already target particular market segments based on age, gender, location, interests, and previous interactions with a website. Additional layers of segmentation can only be a benefit to advertisers, enabling us to precisely pinpoint target customers and reduce the amount of wasted ad spend.

A Glimpse Of The Future

Just imagine the potential that parental targeting brings. Rather than just targeting placements that are related to parenthood, we will be able to specifically show ads to those fresh-faced parents as they get home with their new arrivals.
Right now we don't know what percentage of users are included in Google's 'unknown' parental status category, but if it is low (signifying that Google has the data to make this work well) then we may see additional targeting methods popping up over the coming months and years. Perhaps soon we will be able to target based on weight, cultural origin, affluence, or any other factors which may affect shopping habits.

Good News For Advertisers

Additional targeting is good news for advertisers for obvious reasons. It allows us to take the proportion of ad spend that would previously have been wasted and reapply it to better targeted user segments. We can also adjust our ad positioning, running different ad sets that appeal better to more specific sets of users.

Good News For Everyone

There are privacy concerns, but the issue is with Google having access to this data, not with them making it available for advertisers to use. The data is fully anonymised, only Google knows which users are in which segments, and so the concern should be with Google's access to the data, not with advertisers' use of it.
Although there are many who claim that ads will never be engaging, the success of retargeting, native advertising (where relevant ads are shown within relevant content), and indeed the success of online advertising in general, shows that we do prefer ads that are relevant to us. With increased targeting abilities, users will see more useful ads.
Despite the predictable backlash related to privacy concerns, the potential of this feature is incredible, and this could be a glimpse of the future targeting options for online advertisers.

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