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3 Emerging Best Practices For Finding Your Audience

Brands do a lot of very difficult and important research to understand their audiences, so it’s a shame that this segmentation work is almost always wasted when it comes to media. 

Companies like Lieberman and GfK spend months and hundreds of thousands of dollars developing nuanced profiles of customer segments so the brand can market to their audience better.  But when that portrait is translated into signals that can be bought as media at scale, the nuance is lost. Instead, the result is: moms. Or, women aged 18-34. Maybe if you’re lucky, you end up with a psychographic: fashionistas aged 18-34.
 
You can target ads to “moms” or “millennials,” but when you label real people using generic terms, it’s hard to communicate with them. Not every 18-34 year old woman cares about the same things or has the same values. One attends yoga class daily, only buys organic produce, and does her own composting, while another vacations regularly at exotic locations, values luxury items, and has a shoe closet the size of Fort Knox.  Maybe they both have a child, but that does not mean they speak the same language.

When we place media under the assumption that a person’s defining characteristics are their demographics, our ads can never speak to them in terms they will find meaningful.
 
So how do you reach the mom that’s the right fit for your brand? The good news is that media targeting is evolving, and potential consumers can be identified in a number of ways as individuals. With that in mind, here are three emerging best practices that marketers can use to ensure that the right people see their message:
 
1. Use social IDs instead of cookies to find your audience on mobile – Cookies don’t work on mobile, which means that a user’s previous searches and browsing history are useless. What’s a marketer to do? The answer lies in using an individual’s social ID to follow their interests across devices and screens. When a user is logged in to their accounts on social networks, they can be identified accurately – which means that if your eco-mom is borrowing her son’s computer, you’ll still be able to reach her. In the past year, more and more apps that are not social networks themselves have rewarded authentication through social IDs (think of Spotify or Quiz Up), so those IDs are becoming ubiquitous and the limitations of “social ads” don’t apply universally.
 
2. Identify adjacent interests to expand your overall reach – Let’s say you’re trying to market your new soups to health-conscious consumers. While you can buy media that targets the ecofriendly audience, you should also explore their adjacent interests and identify opportunities to expand your reach. Do ecofriendly consumers also pin home and garden ideas on Pinterest, follow @GlutenFreeGirl on Twitter, and share political articles from Slate and Nautilus on Facebook? If so, consider expanding your marketing plan to include messages that speak to users who share these tangential interests.
 
3. Personalize the creative to match the individual’s priorities – Tailoring messages based on what is valued by each individual is a surefire way to attract attention. For example, if you are running a national campaign on your newest minivan, identify which features will resonate most with each segment of your audience, and work with a partner who can ensure that the right people see the appropriate message. The gas mileage may appeal to the eco segment, while safety resonates with the first-time parent, and the onboard technology speaks to the gear-head.
 
In short, your audience is out there, and they’re more complex than a simple descriptor demographic. It’s up to you to flex your creative muscle and explore new ways to make sure they’re seeing the most relevant message from your brand.
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1 comment about "3 Emerging Best Practices For Finding Your Audience".
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , July 31, 2014 at 8:53 a.m.
    Quite right, Jon. Mindset usually trumps demographics, especially when the latter are of the simplistic sex/age variety. The problem is that the media buying function is not integrated with the brand positioning/"creative" function. So, even if the ad campaign is geared to one or more mindsets as well as certain demos, the latter are used as targeting surrogates by the buyers because the demos are routinely available in the TV rating studies while more subtle and marketing-relevant data is not. Whose fault is this? I would say that it's the clients, who, all to often, relegate media buying to a by-the numbers, eyeball garnering function, without regard to what the minds behind the eyeballs are thinking. A lot of relevant mindset data about media audiences is available from services like MRI and Simmons, but it is not given the scrutiny it deserves.