Why Marketers Need To Think 'Audience First'

A recent report that describes a “Digital Elite” audience that commands a premium from global marketers debunks the industry myth that eCPMs have entered a death spiral of eternal decline.

In my mind, however, the real news is this: Marketers finally have the technology they need to reach their customers. Note the emphasis on their.

The “Digital Elite” identified in that report, based on aggregated data, describes a generalization. This audience may not be the optimal audience for every brand. The exciting thing about the technology that defines this group is that it ushers in an era in which we can understand this and other audiences in new ways. And we can use it to help marketers finally deliver truly customer-centric marketing to their own elite audience.

Publishers who have lamented declining CPMs, take note: When advertisers find an audience that is interesting and/or meaningful to them, they will pay more. Our results indicate that advertisers are willing to pay 85% more to engage with audiences that are meaningful. It’s up to you to attract that audience, or to provide advertisers with the tools they need to better understand the value of the audience you are attracting. What matters to CPG brands means nothing to a B2B marketer. Cisco probably doesn’t want to engage surfer-dude users. Billabong probably does, and will pay more for the privilege of reaching them.



Renewing the focus on audience puts to rest a question raised recently about the decline in PC demand: Does this mean we’ve transitioned to a world of mobile-first? The reality is that for marketing to deliver results, audience has to come first -- on mobile or anywhere else. Today, our customers move fluidly across platforms.

The key for marketers is -- and will continue to be -- putting the audience first: reaching the right customers with the right message on the right platform. Period. It might be mobile, it might be video, it might be social -- it might be mobile-social-video. But hewing to the siloed thinking of the past will inhibit the marketer’s ability to control either the impact or the effectiveness of her campaigns.

Furthermore, audience-first thinking has the potential to enhance efficiency across the entire media marketplace. There has been much discussion in the last year about the planned industry shift from pricing on ads served to pricing on viewable ads served, and among the rationales for this shift have been its potential to eliminate waste from our ecosystem. Once marketers begin to hone in on the audiences that are “elite” for them, we will see inventory valued for the audience it attracts, not for the position it carries on a Web site.

The bottom line is this: We don't have to operate in generalities anymore. Marketers always knew that half their advertising spend was wasted, but didn’t know which half -- right? Now, thanks to the higher-resolution audience picture we can generate, they can find their own elite audience, and reach them with marketing that works. We know that scale and deep data insights, expertise and context combined are the only way to find and engage the right audiences in a complex marketplace.


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