Audience Targeting can be defined as “the art and science of using observed, declared and predictive consumer data to create targetable audience segments across networks, platforms and devices.” But, what does that really mean in, laymen’s terms?

Recently, I saw a video series created for Ad Age called “Explain it like I’m Eight,” where one of the topics being discussed was Audience Targeting. In the one-minute video, an eight-year-old boy likened audience targeting to Match.com. Simply put, your Match.com profile filters out all of the unwanted individuals that you’re not interested in seeing. You only want to date someone based on specific attributes you deem desirable.

Your digital audience can be built using a similar method. But, how on earth do you determine the right audience? In order to answer that question, ask yourself this follow up question – what is my end goal? That answer will tell you a lot about what you should do next.

Say you’re a consulting firm made up of primarily engineers. If the answer to the above question is “I need to hire more engineers,” then the right audience will be “people who are seeking employment in an engineering related field.” If however, your answer to the question is “to promote our services and increase production/sales,” then the audience may be better focused toward “business owners or decision makers.”

There are a variety of options available when determining your audience.

Location

What areas are most important to reach your audience? If you are a small business located in Medina, you probably don’t want to target people who live in Mentor.

Interest/Behaviors

What interests and/or behaviors are most important to you? People who are interested in pets? Or people who are shopping enthusiasts? Or maybe you want to reach people who are consuming content about a particular political issue or candidate?

Demographics

Demographics are broken out by a wide array of factors. Some include age, gender, marital/family status, income, education level, number of children, age of children, among many, many others. While this is a great way of qualifying an audience, it is highly recommended to focus your audience targeting campaign toward the location and interest/behaviors of your desired customer. Think about it this way—if you’re a furniture store, does it matter if you are targeting a person identified as female, Age 25-39? Or is it more desirable to reach anyone who has been identified as furniture shopper? You’d still sell furniture to a man, wouldn’t you?

Get creative with what factors are important to you. And more importantly, don’t handcuff yourself to who you think your audience may be. Look from the outside inward. You might be surprised at what you find.