The first part of convincing a target audience to purchase a product is to make them aware that it exists. In traditional marketing, this often meant spreading the news to the widest possible audience which was an inefficient and expensive process. The new precision of digital tools is making it easier for marketers to connect with the consumers they want to reach but the drawback is trying to control the content one’s ads appear next to.

Numerous research shops have published studies on this topic recently. For example,ValueClick media analysts found that both audience-based and demographic targets are the top goals for advertisers and agencies when they roll out online campaigns. And, last week, I  highlighted a Maxifier study that shows how “audience targeting capabilities” are the top concern when marketers are choosing which sites will display their ads.

Advertisers looking to buy display ads are often forced into “a trade-off between audience and context.” But, these 2 items are equally important to advertisers. In the Digital Advertising: A Portrait of Conflict” report by Collective, 27% of marketers said audience data/targeting was their chief concern while 27% said content/ad environment was the top issue.

The need for brands to reach quality audiences while having their ads appear alongside quality content will be huge in 2012. As data management tools improve, more brands appear to be using in-house staff and internal data management platforms (DMPs) to review campaign details on an ongoing basis. Some analysts believe an opportunity exists for premium publishers and content owners to assure marketers that their brands will be secure in the kind of content that will appear next to their ads. This developing field will be worth watching this year.

[Source: Brand Marketers Home In on Online Target Audiences. Emarketer.com. 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 27 Mar. 2012]