Congratulations, You're Rich!

by , Mar 4, 2005, 2:30 PM
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You may be sitting on a vast pile of wealth and not even know it. Consider some astonishing facts:

*The SEC apparently cannot locate approximately 3 million lost shareholders, representing $10 billion in unclaimed stocks

*87,500 tax refunds were returned to the IRS last year, totaling $73 million

* In the state of Texas alone, $72 million of lottery winnings went unclaimed in 2003

* An estimated $600 million of un-redeemed store credits and gift certificates expired last year

* And one online estimate places the total value of unclaimed money in the United States to be more than $30 billion!

Many online marketers are sitting on a similar mother lode of wealth. These advertisers fail to mine the data they've already collected, and thus forfeit millions of dollars of value. In contrast, smart online marketers increasingly recognize the value of what they already know and design targeting campaigns around this existing data. Based on their historical observations, most online advertisers know the answers to a handful of basic questions. Smart advertisers incorporate these insights into their campaign planning. For example:

Where do your customers live? While most advertisers know where their customers live, smart marketers target these high-concentration areas and eliminate impressions wasted on other geographies without sacrificing desired reach. Consider a typical airline that provides service to only select city pairs. Rather than broadcast impressions to the entire nation or restrict volume by advertising only on niche local sites, the airline took a different approach. By buying on broad-reach sites but only serving ads to consumers in select city pairs, the airline was able to reduce campaign waste by more than 90 percent. Likewise, an offline retailer with a collegiate customer base chose to target only surfers originating from colleges with nearby stores. Their message was seen only by their target audience across a broad array of sites - and a $30,000 targeted buy generated the same effective reach to target as a $30 million broadcast buy would have generated on the same placements.

When do peak sales periods occur? Most advertisers allocate their budgets monthly, but could also target their budgets by specific days and times. For example, an international charity, recognizing that the vast majority of their online donations occur on weekends, can quickly and effectively recoup more than 70 percent of their potential budget by eliminating weekday advertising.

What products commonly appear together in the shopping cart? Whether online or offline, customers often purchase complementary products. Knowing this, smart marketers design their targeting campaigns around product categories. A consumer who continually books Whistler ski weekends, for example, is a strong candidate for continued ski package offers. Fare specials to Florida would likely be less appealing. Major multi-product retailers are now experimenting with such cross selling with promising initial results.

Which customers have I seen before? The simple differentiation between prospects, past visitors, and former customers is incredibly powerful. For example, a recent specialty retail campaign that targeted past visitors and eliminated impressions to all other surfers generated lift of nearly 3,000 percent relative to untargeted advertising across the same sites and placements. Such "re-messaging" campaigns are most effective with highly considered or repeat purchases, but are not as useful with one-time, lower-cost impulse buys. Although there appear to be countless billions of dollars of unclaimed riches in the United States, you may have difficulty staking a legitimate personal claim to this wealth. After all, how many of us have a stash of old Texas Lotto tickets in the attic? The online world is far easier. You don't need a lottery ticket - all you need is the determination to utilize the valuable knowledge you have already collected. In fact, most online marketers have unknowingly accumulated a vast reservoir of million dollar ideas. Good luck - and enjoy your riches.

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