Market Trends

Capturing user intent with your online ads

Written by
14 Aug, 2019

The dream of every digital advertiser is the ability to serve the right ad to the right person at the right time. Tapping into user intent is the way to do exactly that. Intent can be defined as the signals a user gives about what they want or need in a given moment.

searchPlatforms like Google and Amazon have dominated the intent space with search ads, but newly expanded search ads on Facebook indicate that the social network is also taking steps to build products around intent. The move towards search is a shift for Facebook, and speaks to the importance of intent marketing today. 

What is intent marketing?

man using smartphoneIntent marketing identifies and targets actual signals of consumer interest in a product or service—as opposed to defining audiences based on profile or demographic data. In other words, instead of targeting the individuals you presume to be your audience, you use actual intent signals to reach the people who are interested in your product at that moment in time. 

Intent marketing is driven in part by consumer expectations. No one wants to see irrelevant ads online, and more and more consumers expect personalized online experiences. To give an example, 71% of consumers surveyed in a recent study expressed some level of frustration when their online shopping experience was not personalized.

How ad networks help leverage intent

Many ad networks offer tools to help you capture user intent. Here’s one example from Google, as well as more on Facebook’s newly expanded search ads.

Google custom audiences 

new Google ad features 2In both search and display ads, Google has empowered advertisers to target audiences based on their intent signals. The targeted keywords of search are a powerful way to understand user intent and deliver ads based on that information. As an illustration, people who run are an audience who will certainly shop for running shoes, but not at every given moment. Someone searching Google for “running shoes with free shipping,” however, is definitely in the market. 

Google also helps advertisers target by intent in display ads, with custom intent audiences. Instead of relying on predefined audiences, custom intent audiences allow you to “reach the ideal audience for your business” through specific keyword and landing page targeting. You can either define your own audience, or let Google do it for you automatically through the power of machine learning.

Facebook search ads

Facebook adsFacebook search ads were originally introduced in 2012, and then tabled until late last year. Now, search ads have expanded to be available to a number of retail, auto, and e-commerce advertisers.

When using the Facebook search ad placement, your ad shows up among the results when a user types a query related to your business’s offering into the search bar. For now, Facebook search is an additional placement option that can be selected when creating a newsfeed campaign. In other words, an ad must appear in the newsfeed to also appear in Facebook search results.

One thing that sets Facebook search ads apart is that there is no option to target for specific keywords or phrases like on Google and other search networks. Instead, the ad appears when a user searches for terms related to the offering of a particular business. 

Intent as part of the customer journey

3D_CUSTOMER_JOURNEYThe arrival of search ads on Facebook is especially interesting in the way that it fits in with the way the customer journey has evolved. People today move seamlessly between channels, from social to search and back again. One click on one ad in isolation never leads to a sale, and each kind of network has its role to play in the customer journey.

Social networks (especially Facebook) feature a wide range of options when it comes to demographic and interest-based targeting, helping you deliver highly targeted campaigns for almost any objective. Social networks are also an important source of purchase inspiration for consumers. Search, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to be present at the moment they are actively looking for something—at the moment they express intent. 

Combining the inspiration of social and the intent of search gives you the opportunity to reach customers through the full funnel. With search newly available as an ad placement on the platform, Facebook is moving further toward the space of consumer intent. This could be a new and promising space for brands to reach the customers likely to be interested in what they have to offer.

Learn more about the power of cross-channel advertising

Here at MakeMeReach, we are big believers in the power of cross-channel. To help you understand and navigate today’s complex customer journey, we’ve written an e-book to help you unite your online advertising, and reach the modern consumer in a way that fits how they search for products and services today.

MMR_LandingPage_ONLINE-AD-UNITEDDownload the e-book to learn about:

  • The value of social ads and search ads in isolation
  • Each of the major networks and their specific strengths: Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat and Twitter
  • Some key reasons why social and search advertising are stronger together
  • An example of how the modern consumer moves seamlessly between online channels, on their journey towards making a purchase
  • 4 practical tips to uniting your online advertising activity
The Utimate Guide to United Online Advertising Click to download your guide

About Kat Peake Kat is the Content Marketing Manager here at MakeMeReach. She keeps her finger on the pulse to bring our readers the latest news about our platform's solutions and online ad tech.

All posts by Kat Peake