How To Think Like An Ad Strategist

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In college, I took a speech class. Every week, we would learn about the different aspects of a really successful speech. Though we covered structure, subject, delivery, and even personal aesthetics, our professors stressed one of the most important components – Know. Your. Audience. Just like my speech class, the success of a digital advertising campaign often hinges on the ability to not only identify your audience(s), but also the strategic use of messaging and imagery to speak directly to them.

Imagine being a seventeen-year-old receiving ads for a high-end jewelry designer – are you going to click on that ad? Not likely. You may even roll your eyes and say “who thought that I would be interested in this?” – this exactly the kind of response that you want to try to avoid. As you’re building a strategy for a campaign, the very first thing you need to do is ask yourself a number of questions.


The very best place to start is to establish the product or service that you’re selling. This is going to help guide your audience and messaging. If you have past knowledge or data about who has been interested in the past, it can help to inform the choices you make for your audience. From there, you can start to build parameters based on age, gender identity, geography, interests, and more. Depending on the platform that you’re using, the range of targeting options you have will vary.


As an example, if you are going to be advertising a fashion line geared towards a younger audience, I would consider targeting women 18-25 with fashion interests in top DMA’s or cities. However, it is possible to target using everything from relationship status to occupation to specific zip codes and more. I know what you’re thinking – this sounds a bit creepy. However, the frame of mind to use as an advertiser is always to think “ I am trying to show the most helpful message to this group of people”. 


Ultimately, it is the attention to detail between copy, imagery, and audience that will not only help you stand out but will make sure that your audience is seeing the appropriate messaging. For example, if you’re targeting an all female-identifying audience, adding in a line saying “Hey ladies!”, is a simple way to show that you know who you’re talking to. By strategically targeting your ads to a specific audience, it will ensure that you are not only staying relevant, but it will make your ad dollars go even further.