Prior to launching a campaign, one of the biggest questions that marketers seek to answer today centers on whether it should target the household or an individual. Sometimes the consideration of a products or service purchase is made by multiple family members. For some, audience data ties to the household, so the household becomes that primary focus.
The focus now turns to the connection between the individuals and the home. For instance, a furniture retailer might see value in targeting the household. Or if the marketer knows that the mother in the family makes most of the buying decisions, they may choose to target that person instead.
But of course, insightful audience data and real-time targeting are two reasons that marketers are drawn to individual-level targeting. This is where most marketers see the promise of delivering the right message to the right individual at the right time.
The eMarketers Ad Targeting 2018 report reviews both sides. Citing additional data sources, the report analyzes how marketers look targeting ads to households and individuals and how they use both forms to cross-device target. It also includes a checklist of questions for vetting identity and ad targeting vendors to ensure their data is accurate and compatible.
The report cites February 2018 data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Winterberry Group that found 52.3% of U.S. senior marketing professional said cross-devise audience recognition will command the most attention in 2018. Better reporting, measurement and attribution follows with 49%, artificial intelligence for insights at 40%, sophisticated analytics and modeling at 38%, blockchain technology at nearly 37%, data security and governance at nearly 34%, programmatic media buying at 29%, and linking online with offline data at nearly 28%.
Analysts at eMarketer suggest marketers need to consider identity graphs and data onboarding solutions when looking to target audiences. Without an understanding of how an audience maps to respective devices and channels, marketers cannot target or measure exposures for one individual. Managing messaging frequency, understanding reach and creating seamless customer experience can fail without an identity solution in place.
Targeting has become a more complex task. When it comes to ad targeting, per the report, marketers need to consider whether the product is a shared item -- for example, bath soap, paper towels, or a new home. The type of product or service being advertised may dictate whether a marketer leans more toward household- or individual-level targeting.
Consider also the campaign objective. While lower-funnel, direct-response marketers may focus heavily on one-to-one marketing channels and audiences, the report suggests that in some instances household-level data is useless -- especially when targeting via direct mail, connected TV or over-the-top (OTT) video.
The product type and campaign objectives are only two considerations. The others include available data and the path the consumer might take to make the purchase.
Perhaps marketers are considering targeting the household rather than the individual based on General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) or other privacy regulations coming to fruition in the United States.
Overall, it’s not an either or decision. The analysis of the data concludes that the focus on individual targeting isn’t going away, and the focus on household targeting will play a major role in the future.
In most cases, marketers will rely on a mix of both individual- and household-level audience data and ad targeting efforts. The household is often the central focus for items purchased by multiple members of a residence. The individual-level targeting will be kept more for real-time, precise ad targeting.