Targeting: Three Reasons

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 26, 2006
I have a mass product. it sells everywhere. I need to reach everyone. Why should I target? It just makes my CPMs more expensive." This common perspective has created the bottom feeder -- the media manager whose primary mission is to procure low-cost mass media. But it's a good question: Why target? The answer comes in three parts.

>> Competition forces brand positioning. Even with ubiquitous products like toilet paper, competition introduces perceptions, and each brand ends up with a piece of the market. So who is your brand's market? Certainly not everybody. In the case of toilet paper, brands cluster around price points, though some would argue it's about comfort. In the case of cereal, brands cluster around health, taste, and personality. Yet if you look at purchasing of mass products from a demographic standpoint, it's typically flat. This leads marketers to simplify, but not target.

The challenge to driving mass products is to find and apply the right tools to discern and execute against the various consumer groups in the category. Market structures and attitudes and usage segmentations are the standard tools with which to analyze differentiating product attributes and consumer groups. However, these studies are typically stand-alone analyses, lacking connections to marketing execution, which makes them difficult to use. This leads marketers back to flat demographics and no targets.

For our purposes here, targeting is about protecting, growing, or repositioning brands. Ubiquitous products can't remain undifferentiated if they want to survive, let alone thrive among aggressive competitors. The key is to map relevant differentiation, stake out your piece of the business, and then execute against it.

>> Consumers are not uniformly responsive to media. Quality marketing mix analyses will not only tell you the average effectiveness of specific media, they will also point to the areas of effectiveness within your targeting framework. This is achieved by highlighting the distribution of responsiveness across target segments.

Knowing how different parts of your marketing target respond to different media is central to media targeting and planning. Classic media planning efficiency metrics like CPMs (cost per thousand exposures) are only relevant within the context of a target audience. Low CPMs are meaningless if they are calculated against the wrong target. Even with the right target, CPMs don't consider the impact of the medium in generating responsiveness from the target. Analyzing brand and category sales against media exposures across a category's targeting framework can provide the necessary context of media impact benchmarks to qualify media exposures across a matrix of media and target segments.

These media impact benchmarks differentiate the value of media exposures beyond CPMs by qualifying their ability to drive response in different targeting segments across media. Quality mix studies can then show how effective the brand was at driving response across its targeting framework in comparison to the category benchmark. The purpose of targeting here is to drive efficiencies by managing media investments effectively. Knowing which consumers respond to which media for your category of products is the foundation for effective media investment management. Media effectiveness segmentation benchmarking provides a target evaluation framework to efficiently plan media.

>> Data analytics makes marketing targets actionable. We now know that we want to stake out a differentiated product position, even for ubiquitous brands, and that the value of specific media vehicles isn't uniform across marketing targets. These two reasons for targeting are only meaningful if they can be executed.

Better data analytics exist today with integrated meta-databases and their offspring analytics. Normative knowledge bases issue from these meta-database analytics. ACNielsen Consulting Services is re-establishing its business in this space.

So why do we target? Because brands need to be well-positioned in competitive environments, because not all consumers respond the same way to media, and most importantly, because the tools now exist to take measurable action.

Mark Green is senior vice president, media services, VNU Global Modeling & Analytics, and the founding partner of the Media Learning Institute. (

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