I promised it would get crazy.

In part 1 of this series on mobile audience targeting, we went over the basics of how it works, and how it can bolster your mobile advertising efforts.

In this part, we dive a little bit deeper with the three primary ways we target audiences: geographically, demographically, and contextually.

Most importantly, I want to go over how you can practically use each of these methods for your next advertising campaign.

Let’s dig in.

Geographic Targetinggeographic-300x300

One of the most powerful functionalities available on mobile devices today is its ability to track and share our physical location.

When activated, a phone’s location services (GPS, WiFi, etc.) are able to send data as to the whereabouts of a mobile device at any given time.

As a result, geographic targeting is a very powerful targeting parameter in both real-time an historical settings.

Below are two ways advertisers can use geographic targeting for future campaigns.

1. Geofencing

Geofencing is the most common and well-known geographically-based targeting option available. It allows advertisers to target prospects based on their current (real-time) location.

For example, geofence targeting is a great option for local businesses who want to reach people nearby right now.

2. Geofarming

Geofarming, otherwise known as “historical retargeting,” queries location data and re-targets users who have been to certain locations with a given frequency in the past.

For example, we can leverage historical retargeting as a behavioral mechanism for people who have the propensity to buy a certain type of product based on how often they visit a certain location or type of venue.

Note: Both Geofencing and Geofarming methods can be combined for a campaign.

Demographic Targeting

Mobile devices are the most personalized piece of technology the world has ever seen. Consider the following stats:

  • Of the 72% of American adults that own a smartphone, the overwhelming majority (91%) never leave their device more than an arm’s length away at any point during the day.
  • 52% of Americans now consider their smartphone their “first screen” – beating out desktop and even television.
  • Smartphone owners now spend 37 hours and 28 minutes a month on their phones across 27 different apps.

Because so many people are using mobile devices so often – and because we have the ability to monitor and harness all of this usage – we’re able to create highly detailed demographic profiles of individuals (on an anonymous basis, of course).

Putting Data to Good Use

Below are some of the most common demographic targeting parameters you can use to ensure you’re reaching the audience you want.

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Household Income (HHI)
  • Auto Intender (people likely in the market for a new car)
  • Home Owner
  • Parents
  • Millennials
  • Sports Enthusiasts
  • Beer Enthusiasts

Contextual Targeting

Our studies show time and time again, that the best engagement results are a function of finding an advertiser’s right audience in whatever app/site they are enjoying. We are talking many magnitudes better engagement results than simply targeting by content.

Just because we can reach mobile users across any of the 180,000 most popular mobile apps and websites using geographic and demographic targeting doesn’t mean we have to.

When it makes sense, we also have the ability to align the content of the ad itself with topically or categorically relevant apps and websites.

Going Old School

Back in the days of desktop advertising – before ad networks and exchanges – advertisers would buy ad space on the websites that were contextually aligned with the products they had to sell.

  • Gatorade and Under Armor would buy ad space on ESPN.com
  • Dell computers would buy space on the NY Times’ Bit Blog
  • Black & Decker would promote its new power drill on YoungHouseLove.com
  • etc.

Sample Channels

Rather than buying ad space on a site-by-site basis, The Mobile Majority has categorized and grouped like sets of inventory into what we call Channels. Below are the most popular that can be used for the right advertisers.



An ad for a sports product would (ideally) resonate well with sports fans – so it makes sense to run ads on sports-related sites and apps.

The upside of selecting individual sites and Channels to purchase inventory from is that visitors to those properties are likely there for a reason: they are interested in that type of content.


The biggest disadvantage of contextually targeting mobile ads is scale.

Even the most popular apps and websites have a limited number of available impressions. Depending on an advertiser’s budget and campaign time frame, they will likely need more reach than is available from the most popular publishers in a niche.

The other downside is that mobile users view a wide range of content on their smartphones each month (over 27 individual apps at last count). Even the most avid sports fans are using their phones to do more than just read sports blogs.


We recommend contextual targeting as just a portion of a campaign’s overall media plan – not the entire thing.

“White listing” specific apps and websites is a good approach to ensure diehards are exposed to an advertiser’s message, but demographically targeting consumers across a variety of apps/websites through exchanges offers strong engagement with much higher levels of inventory.

Mobile audience targeting isn’t the only thing that’s changing advertising. Discover what mobile can do for your advertising campaigns by downloading our free mobile advertising 101 guide: