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Targeted Advertising and the Future of Data Privacy

Targeted advertising is the art of getting the right ads in front of the right people at the right time. Using audience data from a variety of sources allows companies to gain fine-grain control over the content and timing of the ads they display to consumers. In today’s quickly evolving advertising landscape, marketers face both challenges and opportunities. 

Let’s explore what makes targeted advertising so powerful and examine the different types of targeted strategies and what makes them effective. We’ll also address how changes in consumer privacy are shaping the future of targeted advertising and how using strategic data sources can help future-proof your organization’s marketing strategy.

Benefits of Targeted Advertising

Blindly casting ads out into cyberspace and hoping for nibbles is a thing of the past. Today, the power of data allows organizations far greater control over who sees what, when. Here are four key advantages of using a highly targeted marketing strategy. 

Better personalization

The ability to tailor ads to a particular market segment—and even individual customers—is the flagship benefit of targeting. Without using data to target ads, marketers are forced to rely on educated guesses and hunches. Consumers value brands that understand their desires and preferences. Personalizing ads so they meet a particular need in the moment builds credibility and increases conversion rates. 

Brand affinity

Targeted advertising can help generate positive feelings for a brand. Consumers appreciate well-timed content and advertising that aligns with both their interests and purchasing needs. Strategically using data to deliver relevant ads at the right time will result in customers who are happy to see the ads rather than annoyed by them. 

Better ROI

Targeted advertising helps organizations make the best use of their marketing resources. Targeted advertising uses customer data to identify which messages will resonate with which market segments and the locations where the ads are most likely to convert. This data-centered approach significantly increases marketing ROI.  

Types of Targeting

Targeted advertising can take several forms based on the type of data being used. Four of the most common are contextual targeting, behavioral targeting, geotargeting, and targeting on social media platforms.


Contextual advertising uses audience demographics to place ads in locations closely related to the product or service being marketed. For example, a kitchen appliance manufacturer may advertise on a website dedicated to content for home chefs. This approach is designed to connect consumers who’ve demonstrated an interest in a topic with complementary products and services. 


Behavioral advertising leverages data about a consumer’s behavior to better understand the types of advertising or content they’re most likely to interact with. Information such as browser history, past purchases, and social media activity is used to create a profile that informs what ads are most relevant and when to display them.


For organizations with a local or regional audience, the ability to target ads to consumers based on their location is essential. Geotargeting is useful for optimizing onsite experience by serving relevant ads or suggestions via mobile devices at events of various kinds.

Social media

Social media advertising has experienced massive growth during the last several years. As social media companies have evolved into retail platforms, consumers have acclimated to making purchases from their favorite brands without ever leaving the platform. Combined with the rich amount of data these companies collect from their users, social media advertising enables marketers to create ads that are highly targeted to very specific groups of users. 

Privacy Concerns and the Future of Targeting, Post-Cookie

Google has announced that it will phase out third-party cookies on its Chrome browser in 2023. As this deadline approaches, organizations need to adapt their strategies so they aren’t as reliant on cookies. We anticipate that the increased concerns about data privacy will result in other browsers and social media platforms following suit. We’re already seeing Apple attempt to give users more control over what information will be shared with advertisers. Here are a few options for using data effectively in this new, post-cookie advertising landscape.

Types of data still usable in a post-cookie world 

Although third-party cookies are a mainstay of targeted advertising strategy, there are many other valuable data sources advertisers can pull from. One of the most obvious is proprietary first-party data, which includes information gathered via your website, marketing platforms, customer service platforms, and chatbots. First-party data is powerful because it’s gathered with the expressed consent of users and it establishes a reliable way to reach them in the future. Additionally, this data can be used as a truth set to train machine learning models.

Another valuable data source is contextual data. Media companies will still have data on their subscribers and members, which advertisers can use to target effectively. Placing your advertising content in relevant publications, websites, and other locations allows you to connect the right message with the right audience.

Third-party can provide value in augmenting an organization’s first-party data strategy. Third-party data taps into data sets created and maintained by data consortiums such as  Snowflake Data Marketplace, which includes over 800 live, ready-to-query data sets provided in partnership with more than 200 data providers. Third-party data can significantly improve the ad targeting and measurement capabilities of marketers far beyond what they could accomplish on their own. 

Snowflake for Advertisers and Media Companies

Targeted advertising is crucial for advertisers and media companies seeking to maximize their results and optimize their ROI. The Snowflake Data Cloud helps marketers use data to more effectively create advertising messages and target ads. Snowflake breaks down the data silos that often keep teams in the dark and brings all relevant audience data together into a single, centralized location. Marketing teams can easily access this data to gain deep insights into audience behavior. In addition, organizations can leverage Snowboard, Snowflake’s proprietary data sharing technology, to plan, execute, and measure campaigns through secure collaboration using data clean rooms

Layering data gleaned from Snowflake Data Marketplace further enriches marketers’ understanding of their audiences’ behavior and preferences through the use of live, governed data sets that are updated in real time. 

To learn more about how Snowflake helps marketing organizations personalize their campaigns and drive ROI, download our white paper, How Snowflake Powers Your Personalization Initiative.