Does targeted digital advertising create a geographical divide? - SmartBrief

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Does targeted digital advertising create a geographical divide?

Continued adtech advancements offer marketers more and more options for targeted digital advertising. We ask experts if that ability to target by geography will create a digital desert of ads for rural populations.

3 min read

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Does targeted digital advertising create a geographical divide?

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Will continued options for targeted digital advertising create a dearth of digital advertising within less populated regions of the US?

Think of it: Facebook and other social platforms already offer targeted digital advertising by geography (among other considerations). So do digital ad networks and Google SEM. Add in the increase in recent years in the ability to geotarget mobile phone users, and the increasing market penetration gains we’re seeing in connected TV.

Already, 83% of the US population lives in urban areas, and that number is estimated to push to 90% by 2050. 

Naturally, ad dollars follow populations, especially when there is enough diversity within that 83% of urban-based Americans to satisfy most advertisers.

Getting back to my original question: Will the continued increase in targeting technology combined with more of the US living in urban areas result in our fellow citizens in rural and remote areas not seeing anywhere near the onslaught of digital ads

To get another perspective, I reached out to a few marketing experts.  

“I would think it’s been that way for a while, such as with targeting on social,” said tech analyst and brand strategist Shelly DeMotte Kramer, a Futurum Research founding partner.

“However, for brands that do want that rural audience/geography/demographic, it could be a competitive advantage: They could have the customers others think they don’t want and/or aren’t worth the ad dollars versus more dense populations — and I’m guessing that audience could be procured rather inexpensively as well,” DeMotte Kramer added.

Kent Lewis, founder of Anvil Media and Deksia’s chief marketing officer, said the answer depends on how advertisers are targeting consumers.

“With the loss of cookies putting greater reliance on behavioral and anonymized data, rural consumers are more likely to be left behind,” Lewis said. “I see this as an opportunity for smart brands looking to target their products and services to rural populations, leveraging this gap in spend and attention. 

“I also see this trend fueling adoption of retail platforms like Walmart as well as local community media outlets.”

IMGN Media’s Noah Mallin also said that the prevalence of retail media networks has changed digital advertising.

“The digital revolution means that the Walmarts and Amazons of the world have theoretically expanded the reach of all kinds of products and services to very remote places.

“There is a push and pull in the advertising and marketing world that, for the last decade or so, had trended towards targeting and personalization with the idea the ad relevance was a major factor in effectiveness. Under that model, it was worth chasing the ‘white whale’ of serving up highly specific ad copy even to a rural location if you could scale the ability to do so and templatize it.

“With digital, we theoretically have the signals and tools to do this,” Mallin said.

While technology should enable marketers to cost-effectively scale to reach their audiences no matter where they are, I’d still be interested to know if our rural neighbors see upwards of 10,000 ads a day?

If you have thoughts and/or data on rural vs. urban ad impressions or CPMs, let me know on Twitter at @SBonSocialMedia, or drop me a line.