How to Master PPC Targeting and Choose the Right Ad Platform

PPC Targeting

If you’ve ever thought about running a PPC campaign for the first time, there’s a good chance you were wondering which PPC channel to use.

The PPC targeting options that Facebook has available are different from Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the abundance of other PPC marketing networks you have available.

So where do you even begin when there are 72+ PPC options for you?

Here’s how to create a PPC targeting masterplan that will help you find your perfect audience, with the help of squirt guns and water balloons…

PPC Targeting Gifographic

Specific Demographics

Sometimes your product or offer is so new that there’s no search demand out there for you to easily harvest.

This means you have to generate awareness and demand yourself, before you get that sale.

Companies like Essio Shower or TYME both sell products that people don’t know are available, so a great deal of education around their product needs to happen before a conversion can be expected.

And that’s exactly why demographic targeting works so well for them on Facebook and the AdWords Display Network.

By narrowing in on gender, age range, and other interests and behaviors (which we’ll cover later), Essio and TYME have been able to use PPC marketing to their advantage by turning a one dollar investment into a four dollar return.

Here are the ads they use on the AdWords Display Network…


Essio Ad

With PPC marketing, you’re also able to target other demographics like:

  • Income levels
  • Parental status
  • Nationality/ethnicity (which Facebook got in trouble for)
  • Geographic location
  • Languages
  • Relationship status
  • Education level
  • Work/career
  • Political affinity

And that’s just in the demographic realm.

As of today, Facebook ad targeting is much stronger than any other PPC channel when it comes to demographics.

If your B2B/B2C product or service doesn’t have search demand already and you want to use demographic targeting to your advantage, then these are the prioritized networks we’ve found work best across our 75+ clients:

  1. Facebook (custom audiences)
  2. AdWords Display (sheer publisher size)
  3. LinkedIn (not great for B2C)

Corporate Ladder

With LinkedIn, you’re able to target a much deeper set of demographics that Facebook is catching up to in the B2B space.

Here’s a look at your PPC targeting war chest…

LinkedIn Targeting

As you can see, you have 14 different targeting options that are ripe with B2B opportunity.

If you know that you want to target HR people in North American companies with at least 500 employees, then LinkedIn is the only place you can do that type of PPC targeting.

But one of the challenges that we frequently find is that ad fatigue (one of the reasons why your cost per acquisition can go up) is much more severe here on LinkedIn than it is on Facebook.

Since audiences sizes sometimes aren’t as big as on other platforms, you have to keep refreshing your creative unless you want your cost per clicks to start spiking.

AJ Wilcox, LinkedIn advertising specialist, recently stated some clear things that LinkedIn is missing out on:

  • No retargeting is available on LinkedIn
  • No custom audiences like what’s on Facebook
  • Hidden relevancy/quality scores to understand why ads don’t have high engagement

But don’t let that hold you back. If what you’re promoting has enough margin to sustain sometimes higher than average cost per clicks, then LinkedIn can be the perfect PPC platform for you.

Strong Keyword Intent

If there’s one thing that’s still keeping Google neck to neck with Facebook when it comes to advertising, then it’s their search network.

The strong keyword intent when someone is searching for what you have to offer is the primary reason why some injury attorneys are willing to pay over $100 per click (that then has to turn into a lead before it turns into a sale).

And being some of the lowest hanging fruit, running your text ads on Google or Bing can be one of the fastest and shortest sales cycle type of PPC traffic you can get.

When I was speaking at Elite Camp in Estonia this summer, I broke out the PPC thermometer to show which PPC channels give you visitors who are closer to buying.

Buying Cycle

Search almost always takes the cake when there’s already demand.

When someone is searching for what you have to offer, you’re able to bypass the awareness and consideration part of your funnel, and go straight to the preference and purchase part.

PPC Customer Journey
The traditional PPC customer journey.

By bidding on they keywords your prospects are using to find you, you can calculate how many clicks it takes before you get a conversion, and how many conversion you need before you get a sale (if you’re in the SaaS or lead gen space).

This helps you set certain currency specific bids on your keywords – and in addition to that, you can layer your search targeting with:

  • Keyword match types
  • Geographies (where do you want your search ads to show)
  • Languages
  • Devices
  • Retargeting audiences

When you’re launching your PPC search campaigns, you want to keep two things in mind:

1. Multi-Intent Keywords

These are different groups of keywords who have their own micro funnel within your bigger funnel. This means that most of the keywords you bid on might not ever turn into sales if you don’t match your CTA/offer with their conversion intent.

Consider these three types of keywords you might bid on if you bought cars from people…

The Search Buying Cycle

2. Track Sales Wisely

If you’re in the SaaS or lead gen space, it’s incredibly vital that you track your sales after initial leads/trials/demos have gone through your sales cycle. Most advertisers can narrow down which PPC channel or campaign (AdWords, Facebook, etc) is making them money, but not the keyword or specific audience within that campaign.

Without the keyword level sales data, you’d be thinking that keyword 1 is the best performer because it has the lowest cost/conv:


When in fact, it’s keyword 2 that you should be allocating most of your budget towards because it has the lowest cost/sale:


The best part about the Google AdWords and Bing Ads search networks are that any type of business can benefit from them.

Whether you’re B2B or B2C, if there’s already demand out there, the search networks will make it easy to capture it.

Geographic Granularity

One of the best things about PPC is your ability to have deep control over your traffic.

Unlike organic traffic (search results, social, or referral), you can customize the visitor’s full keyword to ad to landing page experience down to their keyword, current weather, and even the city they’re in.

Even if you’re a national advertiser, you can find great success by breaking up your PPC campaigns to be specific to a state within the US. But it gets even better when you tailor it down to the city they’re in.

We’ve been able to run a ton of tests when PPC ad copy is specific to the city the visitor is in and even tailor the phone number to their area code as well.

Conversion Rates by Phone Number
Image Source

If you’re running PPC campaigns through Google AdWords, you can look at the AdWords dimensions tab and prioritize which geographic locations you want to target first with ad specific city mentions.

Performance by Geography

Which cities give you the most traffic? Start there.

By breaking down and granulating your PPC campaigns with specific geographic targeting, you can make your visitors feel even more local than you actually are – which can ultimately lead to higher conversion rates.

Interests, Behaviors, and Topics

Interests, behaviors, and topics are PPC targeting options you have to be able to find new audiences that may be interested in your product/service.

PPC channels like the AdWords display network and Facebook have the greatest reach when it comes to these types of targeting. Here’s what they mean:


Also called “affinity audiences” within AdWords, interest target allows Google and Facebook to categorize and group thousands (if not millions) of visitors into certain buckets of what they like.

If customers who love your aromatherapy shower kit also like massage, yoga, and meditation, then interest targeting could allow you to target those people who don’t know about your product.

Interest targeting has nothing to do with which publisher site the visitor is on when they see your ad, but more about their general browsing behavior and which sites they like to be on.


Behavior targeting on Facebook is closely related to interest targeting on AdWords.

But on Facebook, behavior targeting is based around 3rd party data from partners like Epsilon, Acxiom, and Datalogix. This is where Facebook tracks what you do outside of Facebook (source).

Here are some of the categories you can use to target:

  • Automotive
  • B2B
  • Behaviors Targeting
  • Charitable Donations
  • Consumer Classification
  • Digital Activities
  • Expats
  • Financial
  • Job Role
  • Media
  • Mobile Device User
  • Purchase Behavior
  • Seasonal and Events
  • Travel

Other categories are always being added and changed.

For a breakdown on each type of behavior, read 49 Facebook Ad Targeting Tips To Hunt For More Conversions.


Topic targeting is related to the AdWords display network where you can target groups of websites around a similar topic.

Google has created an extensive library of different topic codes you can target depending on your target audiences. You can find that library here.

If you sell protein powder, then you’d target the topic category of:
category::Beauty & Fitness>Fitness>Bodybuilding

If you sell security services, then you’d target the topic category of:
category::Business & Industrial>Business Services>Fire & Security Services

If you sell swimming pools, then you’d target the topic category of:
category::Home & Garden>Swimming Pools & Spas

Detailed Audiences

Detailed audiences like retargeting, Custom Audiences on Facebook, and Similar Audiences on AdWords help you target people who either already know you or share the same characteristics of your best customers.

As you already know, retargeting helps you bring back lost conversions who weren’t ready to convert the first time. We wrote a massive post on 33 different types of retargeting campaigns you can run.

Custom Audiences on Facebook allow you to retarget your visitors on Facebook via a pixel/cookie or by you uploading an email lists. When that happens, you also create a lookalike audience where Facebook goes out and finds visitors with similar demographics and browsing behaviors as your current visitors/customers.

Similar Audiences is an AdWords feature where Google finds new people you can target who have “shared interests and characteristics of the people in your remarketing list”.

When used correctly, detailed audiences like there help you scale your PPC efforts to another level.


Now that you have a solid understanding of the different PPC targeting options you have available, it’s up to you to prioritize them based on your unique target audience and your unique goals.

The amount of options you have are endless. Even clients that have been with us for years have yet to hit a plateau because we haven’t even scratched the surface of the different PPC funnels that are possible.

Which PPC targeting options have you found to work best for you?

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How to Master PPC Targeting and Choose the Right Ad Platform