How people market on the internet, for example, has changed beyond recognition. Gone are the days when advertising meant paying huge sums for banners on Yahoo! or CNN. Today it's all about campaigning on social media and search engines. This allows advertisers to choose their own budget, target audience, reach, time span and so forth - and market accordingly.

Naturally, this blessed shift has made the World Wide Web a much more affordable venue for advertisers like small businesses and freelancers. When you can choose who sees your message, when and where it is shown and how it is viewed, you naturally pay less for the exposure than you would for a banner that runs 24/7. This is mainly thanks to the big tech giants' ability to use the massive amount of data they collect on users in order to target specific audiences. And we're not just talking demographics here. It's not just age, gender and location, it's also about hobbies, interests, political views, personal beliefs and so on.

But this development also requires advertisers to understand how targeting works, otherwise the message gets delivered to the wrong crowd. And no, it's not as simple as it sounds. There are a few targeting tips and tricks that can help you out, especially if you're just getting started.

Get to know the platform

Naturally, each advertising platform will offer you something completely different for your money - and when it comes to targeting, it is important to notice these differences. The first key factor you should look at is the quality of the targeting provided. While some platforms have an enormous database and can offer very precise and pinpointed targeting, others can only provide something more general. Facebook and Google, for example, with their billions of daily users, can reach a level of accuracy that LinkedIn or Bing probably can't.

The second key factor is the interface you work with, meaning the mechanism through which you create your ads. Most of the platforms, sadly, are not very user friendly and take a while to get familiar with. It might be a good idea to hire someone with experience and avoid the ‘try and err' phase - or to search for simpler platforms which can be mastered more quickly.

Lead the way

Let's face it: Chances of people seeing an ad on social media (and even on search engines) and directly making a purchase as a result are not very high. Think about it - if someone was checking out their Instagram feed when they ran into your ad, what are the chances they are going to make a purchase on the spot? That's where lead generation comes into play. This basically means campaigning for the purpose of catching the attention of potential clients and causing them to share their contact information with you - like an email address or a phone number. That information can later be used to sell through more traditional (but still very useful) methods such as telemarketing or newsletters.

Lead generation doesn't have to be complicated at all, if the right platform is used. In fact, sites like Crystalead specialise in generating leads through a simple process. Anyone can sign up to become a lead generator and earn commission according to results as mentioned in Crystalead website. businesses and service providers choose to use these platforms because, while it does have a cost, it saves them a lot of time and energy - they pay someone to collect data for them. This system may be especially suitable if you're trying to keep a client for the long term.

Think outside the box

It's not just about targeting the right audience. It's also about targeting the people overlooked by others. When choosing your target audience, it may be wise to go for audiences that other campaigners don't approach. They come at a lower cost since the competition for their attention is smaller. This can also promise a bigger reach if executed right.

The advertising platforms usually give you sufficient and relevant data about different target categories and groups. Study that data before reaching a decision regarding desired targeting: the projected cost, the estimated reach, the compatibility with the budget you set for yourself, etc. Oh, and don't go only for the less popular audiences, but do blend them into your strategy, along with ‘high-demand' audiences.