Once a campaign goes live, an advertiser might be itching to see their digital ad appear on websites. However, ad serving isn’t always that simple. Depending on the audience targeting that was set for the campaign, the advertiser might never see the ad themselves when they visit a website — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


For example, consider an ad campaign for a new brick-and-mortar kitchen store. This is the target audience for the campaign:

  • Women 25-54
  • Live in Chicago
  • Enjoy wine, cooking and home design
  • No kids

Here are two questions to ask:

1. Are you part of the target audience?

When ad campaigns are set up, the target audience is assigned so that the ads are only displayed to relevant online consumers. By design, the ad won’t show to consumers who do not fall within that audience. In other words, if you are not in the ad’s target audience and you do not see the ad, that means the targeting is working!

2. Have you recently been searching for that product, product category or related interests?

Ad campaigns will focus on online consumers who are or have recently been displaying interest in the product, category or interest. For example, a consumer who is visiting foodandwine.com, surlatable.com and other websites contextually relevant to the product would be more likely to see the ad than a consumer who has not done any recent online activity related to the target audience.


Now, taking the campaign’s target audience into account, let’s see how the ad serving process works:


How Digital Ads Are Displayed Infographic