A Comprehensive Guide to Targeted Advertising in the Age of Privacy
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A Comprehensive Guide to Targeted Advertising in the Age of Privacy

With tons of consumer data points available, B2B advertisers have several ways to target their audience.
Sneh Ratna Choudhary
Updated on
March 12, 2024
Published on
March 1, 2023
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Targeted advertising is dead.

Or, at least, in the way we know it. Growing consumer concern about data privacy and the onslaught of privacy laws (GDPR, CCPA, VCDPA and more) have made it near impossible for advertisers to target consumers.

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin came with Apple’s rollout of  app tracking transparency (ATT) in 2021, which shut off access to user-level data, and prompted consumers to provide explicit consent. It’s no surprise that the global monthly opt-in rate of users that allow app tracking is merely 25%.

In addition, Google's decision to phase out third-party cookies in 2024 also has marketers panicking.

But this plethora of bad news comes with a silver lining: There will be a forced evolution of targeted advertising.  

A joint survey by Google and BCG found that while two-thirds of consumers want personalized ads, nearly half are uncomfortable sharing their data.

This discomfort stems from being kept in the dark about what data is collected, how it’s collected, and how it will benefit them.

When companies explicitly seek consent, communicate their intent, and reward consumers for sharing their data, they become consumer data privacy champions and earn their audience’s trust.

The shift to a consent-based, privacy-first ad targeting model is a win for both marketers and consumers.

What is targeted advertising? A new definition

Targeted advertising uses consumer data like website interactions, demographic information, browsing history, and interests to serve personalized ads to different audience segments.    

In a privacy-first (and soon post-cookie) world, the differences lie in how the data is collected and made actionable.

The first part of the equation is simple—relying on first-party data. Companies can ask for consent on their website or app, display their cookie policy, and make the privacy policy accessible.

Making that data actionable is a bit more complex, requiring a unified view of the consumer. This means that all the consumer data must be gathered and merged into a single record.

This can be done through identity resolution—a process that attributes customer interactions across all touchpoints to a single unified customer profile.

You can use the single view to show ads to people who are more inclined to make a purchase instead of pestering users who are unlikely to convert.

Types of targeted advertising (+Examples)

With tons of consumer data points available, B2B advertisers have several ways to target their audience. Choosing the right method(s) comes down to your acquisition strategy and campaign goals.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the most common types of targeted advertising.

Contextual targeting

Picture this: You’re reading a blog post about improving your ranking on SERP, and you see an ad for a guide to SEO strategy.

Contextual targeting

That is an example of contextual targeting. Ads are placed alongside relevant content instead of being pasted all across the internet.

Advertisers tell ad platforms what their ad is about through keywords and topics. Then, ad platforms like Google analyze the pages in their network and place the ad where it is most relevant.

Behavioral targeting

Behavioral targeting factors in data like user behavior, browsing history, purchases, and even social media follows when placing ads.

In the below example, a website about running features an ad from the search optimization tool SEMRush. The ad is unrelated to running but relevant to a consumer who has recently checked out the tool.

Behavioral targeting


Geo-targeting lets advertisers show their ads in selected locations.

To illustrate how this works, we set our location to the UK and re-loaded the Runner’s World website. The same page now shows an ad for Red Nose Day, an annual fundraising event in the UK.


Platform targeting

Advertisers can choose which platforms to run their ads on based on their audience demographics. For instance, Facebook is preferable for an older demographic while TikTok and Instagram are better for millennials and Gen Z.

Device targeting

Device targeting allows advertisers to get granular with the device types, OS, and device models.

For instance, companies that create software that’s best accessed on a desktop can choose only to target desktop users.  


Customers who have already engaged with a brand can be retargeted on email, social media, or display ads.

For example, say a user visits a blog post about improving customer retention on the website of a CRM product. The company can now retarget them with free-trial ads to nudge them along the funnel.

Signal-based targeting

The above targeting strategies tend to be fairly broad, leading marketers to cast a wide net when advertising to prospects. To get more granular with targeting, marketers can utilize signals based on publicly available firmographic and contact data.

For example, an HR tech platform may run ads on LinkedIn to target people who work in HR. But there’s no way to know for sure that those users have a real, immediate need for their software. Conversions might be low, and users could  experience ad fatigue.

What if this HR tech platform could target companies that have recently hired a new head of HR? The new HR head will naturally evaluate the existing tech stack and will be more inclined to invest in new tools.

With Primer, you can do just that—use signals to trigger ads. You can also set company and people-level filters. For instance, the HR tech company can choose to only go after enterprises and then only target the Chief Culture Officer or Head of HR.

Benefits of targeted advertising

Targeted advertising benefits both advertisers and consumers in several ways.

For businesses

  • Reach the right prospects: According to data from Sales Insights Lab, 50% of a company’s initial prospects aren’t a good fit for the product being sold. Targeted advertising allows marketers to reach their ICP and target them when they’re ready to buy.
  • Increase the ROI of ads: When you “reach” the right prospects, the ROI of those B2B ads is bound to increase.
  • Improve customer personalization: For instance, if you’re targeting customers in the CPG industry, you can run ads to share case studies from existing CPG customers that have benefited from using your solution. This, in turn, will likely improve conversion.

For consumers

As per Statista’s research on US consumers from 2021, consumers cited the following benefits of targeted advertising:

  • Access to promotional sales or incentives: 15%
  • Discovering new brands: 14%
  • Personalized product recommendations: 13%
  • Discovering local businesses: 12%
  • Increasing online shopping efficiency: 11%

Access to promotional sales or incentives

How to run targeted ads for B2B audiences

The mechanics of running a targeted ad campaign can vary based on strategy, audience, budget, and platform.

Each platform also has its own targeting options, benefits, and limitations so this short guide is only a stepping stone in the B2B ad targeting landscape.

We’ve extensively covered targeted advertising best practices and lessons in the past, so you may want to start there:

  1. Decide your campaign goals

Are you optimizing for brand awareness, lead generation, or website visits?

Depending on the platform you choose, your campaign goals may differ. For instance, these are your options on LinkedIn:

Decide your campaign goals

If the objective is awareness, choose brand awareness and if you’re looking at increasing traffic to your site, choose website visits.

  1. Choose the type of targeting

Targeting options differ based on the platform.

You can choose to target B2B buyers who have searched for your brand name or product category on Google. On LinkedIn, you can choose the right industry and location. Meta allows you to reach B2B decision-makers or active businesses.

  1. Choose the right platform

40% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is the best platform to generate high-quality leads. This makes sense given the profession and role-specific targeting available on the platform.

But you shouldn’t discount other platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter or refrain from SEM and display ads. Using a targeting tool like Primer allows you to get enhanced identity, which, in turn, gets you Linkedin-level targeting on consumer social platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Your audience and campaign objective can help you narrow down which platform(s) are right for you.

  1. Select the ad format

Most platforms offer a variety of formats to run ads. For instance, you can run responsive ads, text ads, or video ads.

The format will depend on the type of product and resources available to create your ads.

  1. Create your ad sets

Combine what you know about your audience and platform best practices to create your ad sets.

You can even run A/B tests to see which version resonates with your audience to improve your ROI.

  1. Set your budget, schedule, and rules

Choose the right bidding type: CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per impression), or CPS (cost per send).

Set the start and end date of the campaign and add your ad budget.

You can also set up automated rules to change your ad status, budget, bidding, and more.

  1. Analyze performance

All native platforms offer a tracking and analytics dashboard to help you monitor campaign performance. The kind of insights you receive will differ between platforms.

In general, you should be able to see how many people saw your ad (impressions), link or CTA clicks, website visits, or eBook downloads.

  1. Optimize your ads

Use a combination of qualitative and quantitative feedback to optimize your ads.

The challenges of targeted advertising

One of the biggest challenges for marketers when it comes to effective targeted advertising is the restrictions of “native targeting.” Native targeting refers to the targeting options available within individual platforms (such as Facebook and Instagram).

For example, Meta offers only four targeting segments for B2B advertisers:

  • IT decision-makers
  • Business decision-maker titles and interests
  • Business decision-makers
  • New active businesses
targeted advertising

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. There’s considerable overlap between these segments, so it’s unclear who your ad will ultimately be shown to.

Also, this segmentation is based on a user’s profile and interests. The accuracy of this information considering how many folks have quietly quit Meta over the years is questionable.

You also can’t resolve business and consumer identities using Meta or Instagram’s native targeting options.

With Google, you can get granular with your targeting but people still trust organic results over ads. Plus, the right keywords are very expensive and competitive.

Use Primer’s sniper-like precision for your next B2B ad

The overarching problem with native ad platforms is twofold—no identity resolution and outdated or inaccurate data.

Primer solves both.

Primer partners with 12+ different providers to source additional data points for your audience, increasing your list’s match rate on Meta, LinkedIn, and Google.

Companies that use Primer report a ~90% match rate, ~$25 CPM, and ~4% CTR.

Primer’s sniper-like precision

How Primer works:

Primer maximizes revenue for B2B companies, enabling you to reach your highest-value prospects across all channels, including outbound, paid social, and direct mail. Primer cleanses and combines B2B data from 12 high-quality B2B data sources (such as Apollo, ZoomInfo, and People Data Labs), making it instantly available to revenue teams.

With Primer’s powerful audience builder, marketers can build hyper-targeted qualified audiences and reach them simultaneously across ad platforms and CRMs. Primer helps companies increase revenue and unify sales and marketing efforts through TAM definition, ICP analysis, audience targeting, lead enrichment and qualification, and prospect personalization. Primer’s customers have seen 90% match rates on Facebook, a 55% increase in ad efficiency, and a 34% improvement in lead generation. Start now.

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