Digital Geo-Targeting: Four Steps For Successful National Campaigns
Here are four steps to consider as you plan and roll out digital campaigns that are national in scale but local in scope:
1) Micro-Targeting: A traditional target audience might look something like this: Women, ages 25-54, household income $75,000+, outdoor enthusiast. When digital media planners get an audience profile like this, they can't help but snicker, because the number of viable Internet properties that can reach this target audience number in the hundreds. Naturally, there are many other psychographic filters we can layer onto a target like this, but considering the geographic nuances for this target is even more critical. Let's use a ski manufacturer as an example. It's quite plain to see how this generic, traditional target differs in Seattle vs. Miami. Obviously, the message will have far more relevance in the Cascade Mountains than on South Beach. Considering how easy and efficient it is to geo-target impressions, national advertisers should divide their general targets into these micro-targets before they start the actual media planning process.
2) Micro-Planning: Continuing with this simple example, smart micro-targeting has converted a generic, traditional audience segment into two or more, distinct micro-targets in each DMA, each requiring a different approach. Here's where the micro-planning comes in. The fact that geo-targeting impressions on national sites commands little to no premium is lost on many traditional media planners working in the digital realm. When working with a finite budget (isn't everyone?), the opportunity to isolate impressions and increase share-of-voice (SOV) against very specific targets is one not to be missed. The plan to reach affluent women ages 25-54 who are frequent travelers and live in Miami will look very different than the plan for the same micro-target in Seattle. In turn, they will very likely include an entirely different set of geo-targeted national sites that are most relevant and command greater "visitorship" for each individual region. National advertisers need to maintain their national scale, but think on a local level if they want to stand out from the herd.
3) Aggregation: So now we have numerous micro-targets and many, many more individual sites to geo-target in order to deliver a locally relevant campaign. Sounds like a lot of work! I have always lived by the belief that the capacity to execute a campaign should not dictate the campaign; rather, the needs of the campaign should dictate the resources required for its execution. We know that advertisers want to have that intimate, local connection with their customers, but their agencies are often strained to execute complex digital programs, especially when you add the critical pieces of reporting, optimization, reconciliation and billing. Hence, the dramatic increase in the number of "media services" who can centralize the management and execution of multi-market, multi-site campaigns. The idea of media aggregation is not a new development (think newspapers or radio); it is simply new to digital media. These companies serve as a cog in the new digital media supply chain, and smart agencies use them to manage the logistical and administrative chaos of complex campaigns.
4) Localized Creative: So now we have a fine-tuned campaign, tailored to suit local audiences through micro-targeting and micro-planning, and running smoothly through the use of a dedicated, centralized buying service. The opportunity now exists to truly engage the customer by tailoring the creative by audience and market. What strikes a consumer more than an ad running on a national site that is clearly modified to serve their market specifically? Nothing serves an advertiser better, especially those driving an offline purchase, than providing clear and specific location information tailored to the needs of a specific audience. What's more, we now have the ability to dynamically serve creative, so that the ad is automatically populated with relevant, localized information so advertisers no longer have to worry about producing and trafficking hundreds of different creative assets.
The promise of hyper-targeting through the long tail of the Internet is something for which advertisers have yearned for a decade. We should not let old, traditional planning techniques get in the way of today's possibilities for truly targeted digital campaigns.
Reaching exactly who you need to reach, with a message that's applicable and relevant is a sure way to maximize budget and increase ROI, and finally it's a reality!