Digital Advertising for events can be a tricky business, especially on the paid search side. Either the company you advertise for is running the event or attending the event which will dictate how you approach your strategy. You need to fill person quotas, need to drive traffic to the event page, and need to make sure your ads generate interest surrounding the event. This means that advertisers need to be timely with when they activate certain aspects of their overall strategy. That being said, there are some basic targeting tactics and ad strategies that work well for event-based advertising which will set you up for success.


Let’s first start with who we want to advertise to. Using Google and Bing’s in-market audiences and detailed demographics, we can create personas that match the type of people attending the event. You will want to try and match job titles, interests, and any other categories that may create the type of person you want at the event. These two audience types are a great starting point if you have no historical data or existing lists to work with. They can also help filter out unwanted traffic and target only the people that are needed at the event.

Audiences and Targeting for events in Digital Advertising.

Another strong audience play is using remarketing lists to hit attendees from previous events or previous interactions with your content. The type of event will dictate how far one can go with remarketing lists. If this is a first-time event, then you will only be able to remarket to users who have interacted with your content surrounding the event. If it is a reoccurring event, then you have more options. Using lists from your previous events can breed very strong performance if attendees like to frequent your event; this is especially true with industry conferences. If you would like to learn more about remarketing and targeting your most valuable audience, check out Hanapin’s Remarketing Toolkit.

Ad Copy

Outside of targeting, the ad copy is arguably the most crucial aspect of driving people to these events. The ads spark interest, conversations, and create the experience even before the event begins.

Starting with ad copy, there are a few ways to approach the text within your search ads. The main play here will be to present the necessary information in as little words as possible. Location, date, time, pricing, etc. can all work to present the relevant information. Mixing these with strong branded text for the event will set you up for congruency and recognition.

Another ad copy play is to try and generate in-person conversations at the event. This works if your company is attending or hosting the event. Using the ad headlines, add in the exhibit number, booth, or physical location where your company will be at the event.  This will be near impossible to track from a performance standpoint, however, it can create valuable conversations that transition into qualified leads, future clients, and any other goals your company is interested in.

In-person conversations driven by Paid Search Advertising.

Continuing with more ad copy, ad customizers are a bread and butter move for event-based ads. Ad customizers will change based off a data feed that will populate your ads with real-time information that can be hyper-relevant to a searcher.  An example of this is to use the countdown function in your ad headlines. The countdown function can be used either as a countdown to the event or as a countdown to ticket packages changing. This function creates a sense of urgency in the copy and can help induce desired actions. Another ad customizer to utilize would be the geographical customizer. This can allow your ad copy to speak directly to users in a certain city who search for your event.

Ad Customizer example for Countdown Ads in Google Ads.


Paid search extensions can be overlooked at times but for event-based marketing, I think they are a must. This is where a lot of website interaction can occur and where searchers can really find information surrounding the event without having to comb through the site. Sitelink extensions are the main extension to focus on. They should take searchers to pages like sponsors, about us, speakers, pricing, past events, etc. The other main extension to utilize is callout extensions. These can be used to brand the event or convey more information without needing to link any action.