Marin Software's official blog

4 Quick and Effective Ways to Segment Your Display Ad Audiences

February 22, 2016

With the steady rise in remarketing as a digital advertising strategy, audience segmentation and activation has become a key tactic for digital marketers. What are some things that display advertisers should take into account when defining and streamlining their strategy?

Understanding Audience Segmentation


Audience segmentation can be defined as a process of dividing people into homogeneous subgroups based on defined criteria such as product usage, demographics, psychographics, communication behaviours, and media use. Audience segmentation is now a major tool advertisers can use to tailor messages, improve targeting accuracy, and drive performance.

Defining the Strategy


For display remarketing, a sound audience strategy is the foundation for a successful campaign, and has three elements:

  • A meaningful audience segmentation approach
  • A clear feedback loop to validate this approach
  • The ability to activate the segmented audience


To create a truly meaningful audience segmentation strategy, advertisers need flexibility in the tools they use to segment their audience. Segmentation methods also offer increased flexibility in what an advertiser can count as a user conversion, creating an extra dimension to audience creation.

Streamlining the Strategy


Let’s explore four key segmentation methods that allow advisers to go beyond path-based segmentation or a one-size-fits-all remarketing vendor approach.

Query string

Query string is part of a URL that contains data that doesn’t fit conveniently into a hierarchical path structure. The query string commonly includes fields added to a base URL by a web browser or other application. This opens up a huge number of possibilities when it comes to audience segmentation. For example, here’s a query string generated after a user searched on a fictitious travel comparison website.

http://www.example.com/searchresults.html?checkin_monthday=13&&checkout_monthday=27& year_month= current -2&dest_id=United%20Kingdom& group_adults=2&group_children=2&no_rooms=1

Looking at this query string, we know the user is:

1. Looking for a two-week holiday from February 13to 27, 2016

checkin_monthday=13&&checkout_monthday=27& year_month=current-2

2. Interested in a UK holiday

dest_id=United%20Kingdom

3. In a party of two adults and two children

group_adults=2&group_children=2

4. Looking for one room

no_rooms=1

Based on this information, we can now create audience lists based, grouping users based on urgency, demographics, and interests. And, our 1st party data set is fresh and reliable.

We can also count a conversion anytime someone visits a page with a specific URL query string: http://www.example.com?page=thank-you-new-user. In this case, we only count conversions from new users.

JavaScript event

Use the "event" remarketing audience method to add users to an audience when they perform an action triggering a specific JavaScript event on your site. These events could include but are not limited to number of clicks, partial form completion, time on site, hovering over a button, expanding an image, or filtering to view products (such as. from high to low).

For example, suppose a user filters to view products from high price to low. It’s normal for these users to have a higher average order value per product than a user who filters from low to high. This may affect not only the amount we’re willing to pay to acquire these users, but also the type of creative we want to show them and which publishers we might want to target.

Conversions can also be counted anytime a specific JavaScript event is fired in the browser. This allows huge flexibly when it comes to defining conversions and reduces the reliance on thank you pages as conversions.

Recency

Recency refers to how recently a user last left your website or app. Creating remarketing lists based on recency enables a range of remarketing tactics.

It’s common for conversion rates to be high when a user sees an ad in the first few minutes after they leave your website, so make sure you’re highly visible during this time. Recency segmentation also allows different creative, offers, or calls to action based on how long it’s been since someone last engaged with your website.

Recency also allows for interesting cross-sell tactics. Say a travel agent knows that certain users are most likely to purchase travel insurance 30 days after they’ve booked their flights. Advertisers could use recency targeting to show travel insurance ads around this time.

Regular expression (regex)

A regular expression is a special text string for describing a search pattern. This allows advertisers to set up complex audience lists, such as one that matches multiple web pages, query strings, or products. Regular expressions also allow you to set up complex conversions, for instance, ones that match multiple-goal pages.

Say for example you want to create a list for users that go to the Caribbean section of your website as long as the subdirectory is in the second position. You can’t use ends with, or starts with, or contains; however, you can create this list with a regular expression.

^/.*/ Caribbean/.*

^ A caret in a regular expression forces the expression to match only strings that start exactly the same way your regular expression does.

.* The dot could match any letter or digit. The star right after it matches the ability of the dot to match any single character, and keep on going so that it ends up matching everything.

Combining segmentation methods allows you to create sophisticated audiences that matter. By combining numerous segmentation methods, you can create an almost endless number of audiences to activate through remarketing.

Conclusion


To run the most successful remarketing campaigns, advertisers need segmentation tools that allow them to slice their audience in an almost unlimited number of ways. Currently, the number of advertisers using simple, path-based audience segmentation or a remarketing vendor’s standard segmentation approach is surprising. With tools that create and activate a meaningful audience segmentation strategy, you can build the foundation of a truly successful remarketing campaign.

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