Audience Targeting: How to Reach Audiences at all Buying Stages with the Right Ad

Are you using the right ad formats for each stage of the shopping journey? Learn how to engage audiences wherever they are in the funnel.
Updated on June 13, 2024

Audience targeting doesn’t begin and end with understanding and segmenting your audiences. Once you’ve figured out who you’re talking to, you need to create the ads that will attract them to you. “Reach the right audience with the right message”, right?

The beauty is that in today’s world of programmatic ads, AI technology will build the ads for you, picking the ad format and creative that will resonate most for each consumer based on an analysis of their behavior.

The key, though, is having a variety of scalable ad formats to help you send the right message for the different phases of the shopper journey, from awareness, to consideration, and conversion.

Let’s explain.

Awareness: Make an impact and be memorable

If you’re going after a broad audience segment that hasn’t heard of you, you need ads that will make a splash. At this point, you just need to communicate who you are and what you do, in a memorable way. Think: big visuals, bold type, and video.

This example for Ray-Ban captures attention with a rotating cube of options and offers do-it-yourself user engagement to customize style, material, and color of glasses.

And this one from an apparel retailer shows you two different looks that you can swipe back and forth between. There’s no CTA or product details, just an image and a logo – yet, it’s still arresting.

Consideration: Make them curious

Shoppers in the consideration phase are still evaluating their options. They might have heard of you, or not. But if you’ve created in-market audiences that you’re targeting, you know that the people you’re reaching are interested in products or services like the ones that you offer.

That means that the ads you show them in this stage should be a combination of brand messaging and product-specific information. You want to introduce your brand and pique their interest with items they’re currently shopping around for. Some ad tech solutions, like Criteo, can even provide personalized category or product recommendations to unknown prospects. Even if they’ve never visited your site before, machine learning can analyze hundreds of intent signals to identify items they’re most likely to be interested in.

Ads that inspire engagement and interactivity are ideal for this phase to drive consumers to your site to learn more about you. Think: rich media ads that let you swipe, scratch, rotate, or search for something, or that add interest with video.

This app install ad from a travel company is a good example of product recommendations in action. It shows brand imagery and messaging, plus highlights specific destinations personalized for each user to draw them in.

This restaurant finder ad lets the user take control by performing their own search. It’s a simple way to show your value and get consumers to engage with your brand.

Conversion: Make buying a no brainer

By the time consumers reach the conversion stage, they’re ready to make a purchase and just need a little push. Whether they visited your site and left, or are frequent customers, the key with conversion ads is to feature specific products or services and get them to click and convert.

In place of brand messaging, promote special offers, provide additional items they’re likely to be interested in, or provide local store info to drive them to a bricks-and-mortar location. In this phase, you’ll want ad formats that give you options like native or social, and the flexibility to showcase a single item, or show a collection of multiple products.

The mosaic format below highlights different destinations and the discounted price, each one clickable to its own detail page.

And this one features store information that’s personalized for each consumer, to bring shoppers in to their preferred physical store.

Ad technology for the ad creative win

As we mentioned at the start, today’s technology can analyze and understand which creative elements will work best for each consumer and build ads on the fly. At Criteo, that extends to ad formats as well. In addition to choosing the colors, fonts, and CTAs, our AI can determine which ad format is the best choice for a given impression. And we can do this for both known customers and unknown prospects to ensure the most engagement possible. With a variety of ad formats for all phases of the shopping journey, and AI that deeply understands shoppers, your carefully targeted audiences will get the right message, every time.

Want to bring new audiences to your website? Learn more about Criteo Web Traffic Generation.

Ann Pyle

Ann revels in finding the simplest and clearest way to convey a thought. Her favorite word is 'moxie', which she tries to embody whenever possible. She's been developing content strategies and writing for the tech and B2B space for more than a decade. This, along with her SEO and advertising agency ...

Senior Manager Global Content

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