Advertising on the web can be tricky. And like many things in life, if not done right, can lead to problems. One of the problems experienced by some advertisers online is attracting the wrong customers. As aBoard Certified Intellectual Property attorney in Miami, Florida, I look for a specific type of client – businesses and individuals looking to protect their ideas and creations using patents, trademarks and copyrights. It is a waste of my advertising dollars if I end up attracting customers looking for a bankruptcy lawyer. That is where targeted advertising comes in.

Targeted advertising is a type of advertising whereby advertisements are placed so as to reach consumers based on various traits such as demographics, purchase history, or observed behavior. The idea behind targeted advertising is that your message isn’t just broadcast to the entire world, but rather to people that may legitimately be interested in your services. A simple example of targeted advertising is search optimizing my web site for the terms “patent,” “trademark” and “attorney,” which is likely to reach web surfers interested in those intellectual property matters, instead of just optimizing for the general term “lawyer,” which would reach an immense amount of web surfers who may be looking for attorneys of any type.

A good example of a web site that has been search optimized at a high level of detail, is my friend Spencer Aronfeld’s web site,, which is optimized for the terms “personal injury,” “medical malpractice,” “car accident” and a plethora of related terms. This level of specificity insures that Spencer’s advertising is targeted to those web surfers looking for an attorney that handles personalinjury, medical malpractice and car accident cases.

Contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising for advertisements appearing on websites or other media, such as content displayed in mobile browsers. The advertisements themselves are selected and served by automated systems based on the content displayed to the user. This type of targeted advertising involves the placement of your ads in appropriate places. Google AdWords, for example, is a system that will place your Google Ad on partner sites that are related to your area of practice. So if you are a patent attorney, Google Adwords may place your ad on a partner web site that provides free copies of patents to the public. It is logical that web surfers viewing a web site about patents may have an interest in hiring a patent attorney. Again, this type of ad is more targeted than placing an ad in a general location, like a newspaper.

Contextual advertising is also used by search engines to display advertisements on their search results pages based on the keywords in the user’s query. So if a web surfer searches for the words “patent attorney”, then the search engine will return a list of paid ads for patent attorneys, along with a list of organic search results. Google, for example, will position paid ads on the right-hand column and a list of organic search results in the middle column.

Advertising is all about reaching your audience. As explained in this article, there are various tools available for using the intelligence of online advertising to target your audience. It behooves any online advertiser to use these tools to get more bang for their advertising buck.