September 6, 2019 · Phil Foriska
Top 15 Ways to Refine Your Ad Targeting
If you aren’t using ad targeting when serving PPC or Facebook ads you are likely wasting your advertising dollars on people who will never book a room at your hotel.
In this article, we’ll take a look at demographic targeting options, behavioral targeting options, and layering those targets to create granular audiences you can reach with focused and effective messaging.
One of the best ways to refine your hotel’s ad targeting is to segment your audiences based on their demographics. Digging into your data will reveal commonalities about your typical customer. Targeting based on these commonalities allows you to spend your advertising budget as efficiently as possible.
Finding the geographic areas that send you the most traffic and conversions is the perfect place to start when you’re looking at demographic information. Creating campaigns for specific areas is beneficial for multiple reasons:
- Splitting campaigns up by geographic area allows you to see which areas truly drive the most traffic and which areas convert best. It prevents one area from eating up all the advertising budget. You may have a certain market that drives a lot of traffic but does not convert. Geotargeting will help you identify those areas and adjust your budgets accordingly.
- Geotargeting also allows you to use ad creative tailored to the people in your targeted geographic location. People living in nearby drive markets may respond differently to certain specials than those who are visiting from afar. It also allows you to target the area directly around your hotel for people who are looking for a place to stay at the last minute.
Age & Generation Targeting
Your data may also show that certain age groups are more likely to stay at your hotel. You can maximize your ad spend by allocating more budget to those age groups showing higher conversion rates.
Age and generation targeting also allows you to tailor your ad copy and promotions. You may be promoting amenities or specials that resonate differently with older and younger demographics. Appealing to a certain age group’s interests will likely help increase your conversion rate.
Income targeting is especially useful for luxury properties. If your nightly rates are too high for lower-income families to afford, you will want to adjust your targeting so your ads only show to individuals identified as higher-income. Conversely, if your property caters primarily to lower-income individuals you could target them specifically while excluding the higher-income people who likely wouldn’t stay with you.
Parental Status Targeting
Facebook and Google Ads offer plenty of different targeting options based on parental status. This targeting focuses on varying age groups of children. Your messaging and ad creative should reflect the group you’re targeting. For example, if you are targeting parents with toddlers, you will want to show imagery of parents with toddlers enjoying the family-friendly amenities at your hotel.
Life Event Targeting
Targeting people based on recent life events can be extremely powerful. It allows you to reach a target audience at the most appropriate time in their life journey. One of the best use cases of life event targeting for hotels is targeting people identified as getting married or newly engaged. These people are likely looking for wedding venues or honeymoon destinations. If your hotel hosts weddings or offers honeymoon packaging, targeting people who are newly engaged can be very effective.
If your hotel regularly hosts guests from other countries, language-based targeting will help you reach them and speak to them in their native language. Using the language you are targeting within your ad copy creates an affinity with your audience and enables you to promote the features that make those people want to visit your property or geographic area.
Political Affiliation Targeting
While this is a targeting option, it doesn’t always make sense to use in a hotel’s targeting mix. One instance where it does make sense is when you are targeting people who are traveling to your area for a specific political event. If there is a political convention or rally in your area, it may make sense to target that party’s followers by showing your proximity to the event.
Racial Affinity Targeting
This is another targeting option that’s available but doesn’t have many use cases for hotels.
While demographic targeting focuses on the characteristics of a person, behavioral targeting is based around actions a person has taken online. This behavioral data is collected by Google, Facebook, and you the hotelier. Refining your targeting using all of this data will help you spend your advertising dollars as effectively as possible.
Both Facebook and PPC platforms offer a vast amount of interest-based targeting options. They collect endless data on users and you can leverage that data to refine your targeted segments. The most applicable interest-based targeting option for any hotel would be in-market audiences. Through the data they collect, Google knows when a person is interested in traveling to a particular area.
This targeting works especially well when you are running on top-of-funnel keywords trying to capture people who are looking for your area but may not be familiar with your property yet.
Another common example we see is a hotel targeting people interested in fitness & wellness when they are promoting stays for an upcoming marathon. If you know a large group of people will be traveling to your area, do your research to find any common interests they may have, and find closely associated interest categories to target top-of-funnel keywords.
Placement targeting allows hotels to show display ads on specific websites, YouTube channels or mobile apps. Using placement targeting is similar to interest-based targeting. When you have identified the interests of a group traveling to your area, you can also find sites that people with those interests commonly visit. If those sites allow display advertising, they are a perfect choice for placement targeting.
Time Of Day
Time of day targeting allows you to show your ads during specific days of the week and/or specific times of the day. This works well if you have data showing most of your bookings happen on a certain day of the week or a certain time of day. Only serving ads during the highest converting times can be very effective for hotels with limited marketing budgets.
Website Visitor List Targeting
Website visitor list targeting allows you to create lists of people who have visited your website, or specific pages of your website. These lists can be used in both search and display advertising to reach people you know already have some familiarity with your property.
If a person visits your site and goes back to make a broad top-of-funnel search on Google you may be willing to pay more to get them back into your conversion funnel. You can also make a list of people who visited a specific room page and serve them display ads featuring the room they were viewing.
We also recommend creating a list of converters. You can exclude your converters list from all other campaigns so you aren’t serving ads to people who have already booked.
“Similar-To” Audience Targeting
Similar-To audiences are created by the advertising platforms using the data they have about your site visitors. They look at the characteristics of people on your existing lists and will create lists of people who share similar characteristics. A great use-case for this is creating a ‘Similar-To’ list of your ‘All Converters’ list so you can reach people who are similar to your past guests.
Email List Targeting
Digital advertising platforms allow you to upload email lists and target the people on your existing lists. You could segment your email lists based on specific behaviors and/or demographics. For example, you could make a segment of people who booked around this time last year and serve them display ads to remind them to book with you again.
While these targeting options can have a great impact on their own, you can get much more granular when you start layering. Including more than one of these targeted segments in your advertising mix lets you personalize ads and get closer to the 1-to-1 communication we strive for in marketing. One thing to keep in mind is that the more layers you add, the more granular your targeting becomes, and the smaller the reach. These platforms have minimum audience size requirements because of privacy issues. If you add too many layers, your audience may become too small to target.