Regardless of the fact that today audience targeting is so popular, it is important to also admit some weaknesses as well. It turns out that paid search audience is not that heroic and the most effective targeting method paid searchers had expected it would be.

The purpose of this article is to shed some light on the idea that the keywords can be replaced by audience targeting in paid search.

The keyword is still the most powerful method of targeting for a paid search specialist, but also audience targeting can have a valuable impact in search bidding.

The best example one ever told in terms of the main weakness of audience targeting was from a traditional marketer who has perhaps never used the Keyword Planner. He said the following things:

  • He has two teenage daughters
  • They are within 24 months of each other, therefore in age demographic targeting they would be the same person
  • Both of them are young women, therefore in gender demographic targeting they would be the same person
  • Both of them are his daughters in his care, therefore in income demographic targeting they would be the same person
  • Both of them are living in his house, so in geographical targeting, they would be the same person
  • Both of them share the same friends, so in social targeting, they would be the same person

But, if speaking about personality, they are two different persons. One is creative and enjoys high heels and dresses, while the other loves the outdoors and sports, and wears blue jeans and sneakers almost all the time.

If a marketer using audience-targeting were selling spring dresses and saw them on his list, he would understand three things: (1) they are two high-school girls with the same revenue in the same geographical region, (2) they are both interested in spring dresses, and (3) will make only one sale.

It is not his targeting that causes problems; the thing is that not all those gathered into an audience persona box will work.

Audience targeting itself has shown some weaknesses. Moreover, it is not the saviour of all digital marketing that many believe it to be; and that there is an effective and really working solution that fits perfectly with demographic targeting, but cannot be replaced by it. It is a targeting method paid searchers have used for years now.

It is the keyword.

While audience targeting operates under the law of averages (someone in a demographically targeted list has to actually be interested in what one is selling”), keyword targeting works in individual-revealing user intent.

Keyword targeting can achieve the heights an audience can never, ever do…