Pre-targeting is a type of advertising that precedes campaigns focused on generating awareness among a target population. Typically, pre-targeting uses contact information paired with cookie data to match desired contacts as they surf the web.

How does pre-targeting work?

A company pairs email addresses with cookie data on popular ad networks such as Google, Facebook, Linkedin, or many of the CPM-driven ad networks (Trade Desk, Adroll, etc). The company then displays its ads to the people who browse the web among the target population.

Pre-targeting is often part of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns, at the opposite end of the spectrum from retargeting, which uses cookies from site visits to stay top-of-mind with prospects after they’ve visited your website.

Pre-targeting enables a company to show its ads to people who have never visited their website but may be looking for solutions that this firm provides.

As you might imagine, the goal is to create highly customized ads that raise awareness and even generate clicks from the target audience. Often the ads are combined with, or followed by, direct response prospecting campaigns.


Company VetEq produces veterinary equipment. They're launching a new product line of telemetry systems. The marketing department decides to use pre-targeting to raise awareness of known veterinarians in their state.

VetEq builds a list of emails to pair with the cookie data pools of a couple of ad networks. Next, they run an advertising campaign that targets only those vets, raising awareness of the VetEq brand and generating clicks to the VetEq landing page.

Advantages of pre-targeting

1. High-quality leads

The method enables you to target prospects who are likely fits for the products/services/solutions you offer. Chances are high these people are worth pursuing.

2. Good timing.

The company gains an opportunity to get noticed by its potential buyers early in their buyer journey.

Pre-targeting and Outbound Prospecting

Recently sales development teams began using this method to enhance their prospecting activities. Often referred to as ‘Ad Air Cover’, SDRs use familiarity from multiple ad exposures in order to provide a lift to their direct response campaigns.

They use pre-targeting less to pursue broad advertising goals. Instead, pre-targeting display ads raise awareness with prospects to the upcoming email, phone call or any other type of active engagement.


Pre-targeting is an efficient method to target potential customers early in their buyer journey. It is used both by marketing and selling teams for lead generation purposes. Marketers use pre-targeting advertising to generate awareness in key target audiences. Sales apply these tactics to empower outbound prospecting.