Ad Targeting 2018

Households, Individuals or Both? Why a Blended Approach Is Often the Answer

Recognizing and targeting audiences across devices is a must for any marketer hoping to engage customers in a more unified manner. But how marketers identify and pursue these audiences depends on a variety of factors, including their objectives, their chosen identity graphs and their channel mix.

  • The household is often the central focus of ad targeting efforts for companies selling items that are shared by household members or products and services centered around life events (such as buying a new home or sending a child to college). For some marketers, lack of individual-level data may also necessitate a primary focus on households. This is often the case for consumer packaged goods (CPGs) companies lacking direct-to-consumer relationships—and data. Those leaning heavily on channels organically targeted at households, such as television and direct mail, also tend to focus here.
  • Marketers eyeing digital often seek a more one-to-one audience targeting approach. For many focusing at the individual level, benefits of more real-time and refined targeting practices, coupled with more personalized messages, are seen as ideal ingredients for driving greater customer engagement, and ultimately, revenues.
  • For a growing number of marketers, targeting households or individuals is not an either-or decision. Many brands combine individual- and household-level targeting practices to capitalize on the customer journey and better realize core marketing objectives, such as optimizing reach and frequency throughout that journey.
  • Still, marketers must proceed with caution when marrying the audience identity graphs behind both data sets and deploying the channel sets required to make individual- and household-level targeting work. eMarketer highlights questions marketers should be asking of any ad targeting service provider or identity solution.

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Table of Contents

  1. Ad Targeting Today
  2. Factors to Consider When Planning an Ad Targeting Strategy
  3. Targeting to the Household or the Individual
  4. A Blended Approach
  1. Looking Ahead: Is One-to-One Ad Targeting in Trouble?
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Vetting Ad Targeting Vendors: A Marketer’s Checklist
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Greg Bayer
Nielsen Marketing Cloud
Senior Vice President, Product
Interviewed May 16, 2018
Michael Hayes
Chief Revenue Officer and CMO
Interviewed May 10, 2018
Mark Jablonowski
Managing Partner and Chief Technology Officer
Interviewed May 9, 2018
Eddie Revis
Senior Director, Marketing Communications
Interviewed May 16, 2018
Don Black
Director, Product Management
Interviewed May 10, 2018
Tara Carraro
Nestlé Waters North America
Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer
Interviewed May 30, 2018
Kevin Ching
Senior Vice President, Product and Data Strategy
Interviewed May 15, 2018
Jane Clarke
Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM)
CEO and Managing Director
Interviewed May 10, 2018
Devon DeBlasio
Senior Manager, Product Marketing
Interviewed May 10, 2018
Rob Griffin
Consultant and Digital Advisor
Interviewed May 17, 2018
Ashwin Navin
Samba TV
Co-Founder and CEO
Interviewed May 8, 2018
Adam Solomon
Chief Product Officer
Interviewed May 18, 2018
Lori Walker
Senior Manager, Product Management
Interviewed May 10, 2018
Rick Welday
AT&T Advertising & Analytics
President, Media Sales and Operations
Interviewed May 30, 2018


Lauren Fisher


Caroline Cakebread
Junior Analyst
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Tracy Tang
Senior Researcher
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst

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