PPC Audiences: Who Is The Audience?

Share with:

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of audiences in PPC. More than ever, audiences are becoming one of the main way we reach potential customers in PPC – as important as keywords. But who is the audience, exactly?

Audiences, Broadly Speaking

Broadly, your audience is whoever is buying your product. Large B2C retailers like Amazon probably don’t spend much time defining their audience – it’s anyone with a credit card, really.

But for most advertisers, it’s important to drill down a little deeper than that. For many consumer products, the audience is obvious. People buying diapers tend to be parents of babies. People buying guns tend to be male. There are always exceptions, but you can hit 80-90% of your audience by doing some simple targeting.

B2B Audiences Are Challenging

In B2B, audience targeting is a little more challenging. There are multiple stakeholders involved – product users, executive decision-makers, administrative assistants, purchasing departments, and more. How do you figure out who to target?

Verticals Dictate Audiences

In some ways, the audience depends on the vertical. If you’re selling software, the first person to target is the end user. Even if that person doesn’t make the final purchase decision, they’re going to be the one asking for the software. For example, I’d been looking for a solution to help with ad testing for years. When AdAlysis came out, I immediately started begging my boss to buy it. I was relentless – and it paid off. But I didn’t write the check – my boss did. If I were advertising for AdAlysis, I’d go after the PPC practitioners, not the vice presidents of search who likely aren’t actively managing campaigns.

For other verticals, targeting C-level executives makes sense. Let’s say you’re a medical equipment provider who’s developed a new piece of equipment that saves time and makes a more accurate diagnosis.  You could target the end users, but it may make sense to target the hospital CFO or the finance director, who’s looking for ways to make the hospital more efficient. End users may not be aware of the product, and may be happy with the way they’re currently doing things, but if you can convince the CFO, you’re likely to make a sale.

Business Size Does, Too

Business size plays a role, too. The larger the company you’re targeting, the harder it is to get through to C-level folks – they’re inundated with marketing messages already. You may be better off reaching their executive assistant, or going lower down the ladder to mid-level managers.

Understand that when you’re trying to reach large companies, you’ll have to get creative with your audience, and with your messaging as well, to break through the clutter.

And if you’re targeting small businesses, understand that employees wear many hats. The CFO is probably the entire accounting department. The web developer is probably the graphic designer, and maybe the software/tech person too. The owner may be the CMO, CFO, and CEO all at once. These are busy people, so if you can come to them with solutions to make their lives easier, you’ll get through the door more easily.

Personas Help

If you’re working with larger advertisers, they’ll often have a detailed understanding of their prospects, and may have personas. A persona is a representation of your audience segment. (BTW – this link has a great how-to on creating personas).

Here’s an example of a persona that gyro created:

Personas help define not only who your target audience is, but how to reach them. Ideas for paid social targeting practically jump off the page – age, education, gender, and other characteristics are listed right there. Pain points that could be used for search keywords or ad copy are also there: patient care quality, accountable care, etc. Personas give you a great start in identifying your audience.

Determining who is in the audience is the first step to successful audience targeting. What are some ways you define your audience? Share in the comments!

Related Posts:


  1. Nice article. Google Ad allows targeting by intent. Facebook / LinkedIn Ads allow targeting by interest and behavior attributes in the persona. Wish there was a single ad platform that helped target by both! In our experience with B2B digital advertising, Google Ad is more effective in terms of lead volumes and cost per lead compared to FB / LI. We find LI still expensive. For the first time, we ran FB Ad recently, where we set interest and behavior attributes gathered from our ideal existing customers: Much to our dismay, we didn’t get a single lead:( PS: Cash on Delivery accounts for over 60% of ecommerce sales in India. Therefore, Amazon India’s audience doesn’t even need to be one with credit card!

    • Melissa Mackey says

      I’m with you – I wish there was a platform with both intent and attributes! Remarketing is probably the closest thing, but it doesn’t have the reach/volume of the other channels. LI is crazy expensive; FB can work but can also be a high volume of non-converting traffic. In India, it sounds like the entire country is Amazon’s audience. 🙂

  2. On another note, I’ve always been puzzled at how American media references credit card only whereas reports by American analysts say debit card usage has come close to or even exceeded credit card usage. To that extent, Amazon USA’s audience is also one with a debit card!

  3. This makes perfect sense.
    Depending upon the target audience which is the one who makes the purchases, we need to reach out to the right people. If we talk about targeted audience in digital media, I guess this is the only reason for Facebook’s tremendous growth.
    We can find specific people based on age/gender/location/interests etc and target such people which rather is a bit difficult on Google since it works on entirely different manner.

  4. So we define our target audiences down to the letter and it works okay. The issue as I see it is this; how well can one ad network map our profile targeting to their users? I have never once published my birth date, nor gender, nor position, nor title, nor education etc on a social media platform, much less google. Sure they can use some level of modeling on search and visit data to say, this is a guy, he likes to golf and purchases a lot of marketing related software. And yes, LinkedIn has some of my work history. But I’ve been involved with digital strategies for nearly 18 years. My belief is that when it comes to B2C the platform’s profile data is about as good as their search volume data.

    My feeling is that high level placement targeting would be far more effective than hoping gets our profile matching correct. Unfortunately, you can only target down two levels from the directory root. Using Google’s media planner and you basically get the same dominant websites and only at their root level.

    With our persona definition we also include the publications where we feel this person would regularly consume information. We do like using email lists as an audience target and we like using such lists to model against larger datasets. This has proven effective.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.