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Vertical Targeting Series: Intro to Building Your Vertical Strategy

When it comes to online advertising, capturing and targeting the most relevant audience is a key component to any campaign. Finding the ideal target market for your product can be particularly difficult when consumers fall into various demographic or behavioural buckets. If everyone falls into multiple categories, how do you know where to find the right people, for the right product, at the right time?

Take a step back and look at your audience to determine if they fit into specific topical groups, based on interest or industry. This might include categories such as travel, retail, finance or healthcare. In the world of digital advertising, these are considered verticals. If you can segment your audience into verticals, you may benefit from implementing a vertical targeting strategy.

Vertical Targeting

Vertical targeting is one of the most effective ways to capture a focused, intent-driven audience. You can use specific messaging tailored for that segment and curate the content to cater to the unique needs and interests of your target market. To help get you started, we’ve put together a four-step guide to building your vertical strategy.

Step 1: Reconfirm your target market

You likely know your target markets based on past purchasing behaviour or the success of your previous campaigns. However, you might be overlooking a few, or targeting an audience that is very broad. Dig deeper into your customer data to confirm your top verticals and perhaps uncover a few sub-verticals as well. Think about what interests or characteristics your customers share or pick features from your offering that you believe are appealing, either from reviews or direct feedback, and consider who else might enjoy or benefit from them. It is best to rely on defined metrics or data points where you can. For example, identify the characteristics of your top spenders to draw conclusions about who your target market is.

Step 2: Build your buyer personas

Next, and this is the most important part, build generalized representations of your ideal customer in the vertical you want to target, and imagine what the buyers would look like. Building a buyer persona is essentially creating a profile of a person who represents the exact centre of your target market. This ideal (fictional) customer is given a name, age, even a profile picture, and made into a “real” person by leveraging data that you collect.

To build your personas, find individuals in your network that actually work in or are involved with the respective vertical. Take them out for coffee and get some insight! They can provide context and an insider look into what resonates best with buyers like them.

If you are looking to follow a specific structure during your conversations, we suggest setting it up like an interview. Not sure where to begin? We’ve compiled example questions to get you started.

The categories you want to focus on are:

  • Demographics (age, gender, income, marital status, job title, etc.)

  • Psychographics (major life events, life challenges, accomplishments, etc.)

  • Behaviour and Preferences (social networks they use, devices they own, hobbies, etc.)

  • Buyer’s Journey (what product needs they have, concern for price vs quality, etc.)

It can be easy enough to gather demographic information online from places such as LinkedIn. You can even find information from online lookalikes to fill in the demographic gaps, and to dig deeper, you can ask some more detailed questions such as:

  1. What websites do you frequently visit?

  2. What publications do you read on a regular basis?

  3. How do you learn new skills?

  4. Do you typically conduct research before making a purchase? If so, how many sources do you use?

  5. Who do you trust for product recommendations?

  6. Describe one day in your (professional) life.

  7. What type of content do you prefer (text, photos, videos, etc.)?

  8. Are you loyal to certain brands/technologies?

  9. What key events and/or conferences do you attend?

  10. Do you consider yourself tech-savvy?

Personas should be built using data, not hunches. If you try to answer these questions without actually asking your candidate, you might be overlooking some integral points of view that you hadn’t thought of previously.

Step 3: Map your customer’s buying journey

Now that you have buyer personas, you can map their individual paths to purchase to determine where your ads will be most effective. Consider the entire research process for a potential customer, along with the purchasing stages, and all of the ways they might be using their various devices throughout. For example, for a potential traveler, you would not want to assume they only use a desktop to book a trip and overlook their mobile activity, which may be integral to the buying process. Once you have mapped out the customer’s buying journey, you can identify the best time to capture their attention with an ad, ultimately increasing the probability of a conversion.

Step 4: Leverage your DSP

You will want to use advertising technology with the appropriate targeting parameters to support your vertical strategy. This includes partnering with a Demand-Side Platform (DSP) that offers features such as audience targeting, geotargeting and day parting. In addition to the standard targeting options you can find in most advertising products, some DSPs also offer custom, intent-based segments that capture people who are actively reading about topics relevant to your brand or your competition. You can also leverage either Deal packages designed specifically for your vertical, a tentpole event or custom deals to capture specific inventory you are interested in.

Easy as 1, 2, 3… 4

Each vertical offers unique opportunities to build out your campaigns, and there are different tools and tactics you can leverage for each. Be sure to check back on our blog as we will be taking a deep dive into several verticals, and how to tackle the campaign planning for each.

If you want to learn more about custom segments, custom deals, or vertical targeting, reach out to your StackAdapt representative or contact us to get your vertical strategy going.

5 min read