Commentary

The Power Of The Index

The digital marketing business takes a lot of heat for inconsistent measurement. Even the IAB is pushing for more standardized measurement practices, which is a quest of questionable merit. The more ways you can spell digital success, the better. When it comes to reaching affluent customers in digital marketing, there's a sure way to spell success: i-n-d-e-x.

Here's why -- marketing to affluent customers requires comparisons. Brands that are trying to reach the top tier of the income brackets must do so by comparing their net worth and behavioral segments to a baseline. As examples, the Consumer Confidence Index works only because it is compared to previous months, while the American Consumer Satisfaction Index works because it is compared to a baseline of 100 (for excellence.) When reaching affluent customers via ad platforms, content sites or networks, it's the index that really matters. It is the basis for showcasing the strength with which that content can properly reach affluent customers.

In short, in the digital marketing audience business, you are what you index. Almost any company can show how it indexes versus the average American or even a baseline customer. But the real power comes when a digital marketing property can index its audience compared not only to the average customer, but to the affluent customer. Here are some examples from a recent data project that's nearing completion at Adara Media:

  • According to Nielsen, affluent customers (100K+) as compared to the average American consumer index at 288 for international travel. The audience segments in our audience platform indexes at 886.
  • The average affluent customer segment for recent domestic car rentals indexes at 285; us: 801
  • Airline and hotel loyalty programs have a 200 index for the average affluent; us: 639
  • For direct marketing purchases, affluents index at 217 vs. the average consumer; us: 610

The list goes on. This is not a claim that our audiences' indexes are higher than other ad platforms or content owners. Instead, it shows that indexing is an effective predictor of audience success. It's not enough to know that affluent customers buy more, rent more, travel more and engage more. The questions must be asked with more precision. Do they travel frequently? Domestically? Are they currently traveling? Those questions are answered with their own index and must be delivered with precision.

There are also some index numbers, admittedly lower on our segment list, that approach even indexes. For example, entertainment purchases (movies, music, concert tickets) don't index much higher for affluents than the average consumer. As a result, our database doesn't trend as well in that direction for those segments.

It goes to show that comparison means everything in terms of evaluating media and the delivery mechanisms to reach affluents. Going with the index is going to be a sure-fire approach for advertisers and media planners. Pick the highest-indexing segments for affluents and the media buy is that much more precise and powerful. No matter how you spell it.

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