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What percentage of targeted ads reach their intended audience?

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 09 Jan, 2017
Essential Essential topic

Chart of the day: Online campaigns precisely targeted at a certain demographic often miss the mark.

Digital advertising is sold on the basis of targeting. Whilst everyone watching the super bowl or the X factor gets shown the same TV ad regardless of their age, gender or interests, digital ads can be hyper-targeted to just be seen by the exact demographic you know is most interested in your product. Or rather that's how it works in theory. In practice, the results are often very different. Recent research by Nielson found for certain groups, such as males in the 18-24 age range, only 17% of targeted ads were actually reaching the intended demographic. The rest were being seen by people the advertiser did not intend to target.

This reveals a big flaw in targeted advertising, as across the board about half of views are coming from people the advertiser wasn't paying to target. Whilst there is a wider debate about the metrics of hyper-targeting versus mass media, the point is advertisers should be aware of the difference between what they think they're paying for and what they are actually getting.

  • Source: Nielson
  • Data Sample: 40,000 campaigns measured by Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings in the U.S.
  • Date: Q2 2016
Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

Rob Allen is Marketing Manager for Numiko, a digital agency that design and build websites for purpose driven organisations, such as the Science Museum Group, Cancer Research UK, University of London and the Electoral Commission. Rob was blog editor at Smart Insights from 2015-2017. You can follow Rob on LinkedIn.

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