Focus On Relevancy, Not Reach

nicole-monteleone“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Nicole Monteleone, director of analytics, modeling and business intelligence at Eyeview.

All brands with the basics of a modern marketing plan know an audience that “works” for them.

It’s usually not hard to identify the demographics for this group, which can be as simple as ESPN knowing that male sports fans will click sponsored social content to read the latest on Johnny Manziel. Engaging with the audience you’ve always known is usually a simple, logical process that delivers a better-than-average return on advertising spend relative to any other group a brand marketer targets.

The modern connected world has been great at delivering new channels through which brands can reach their bread-and-butter target group and attempt to expand their audiences. But with new ad technologies and channels seeming to appear overnight, the advertising industry’s “reach” is starting to exceed its grasp. We have more tools than ever before, but we aren’t sure how to use them in the most effective ways.

The most common missed opportunity of modern advertising isn’t neglecting a popular new channel – it’s identifying the obvious core audience that “works” for a brand and stopping there. While targeting broadly relevant demographics like male sports fans will generate positive results for ESPN, this approach is no longer the most cost-effective or smartest way to conduct a campaign. Relevancy, not reach, is the next frontier of advertising. The successful pioneers of this new frontier will be the brands that are willing to challenge their basic assumptions about audiences and targeting.

When targeting male sports fans, are the results being driven broadly across the demographic or is it actually a smaller group that is most impacting your bottom line, such as fantasy sports fans? The latter is often the case. An insight like this can’t be gleaned without understanding your audiences and their preferences on a granular level. After learning that a niche audience is the primary driving force behind an ad’s performance, you will be able to develop smarter campaigns. Perhaps you’ll want to leave out fantasy players in future ads so that your efforts and ad spending focus on harder-to-reach demographics.

The value of truly understanding your core audience and how it engages with your brand is obvious. Knowing your audience is rule No. 1 in many marketing playbooks, so why are many advertisers still trying to find their audience with a telescope instead of a microscope?

Even after understanding this concept, some advertisers assume it will take too much time, money and effort to develop the tools to examine audiences and targeting at a granular level. In the past, this was a challenge. A decade ago, finding and integrating relevant online data could be a lengthy process because there were limited reputable data sources and the platforms most advertisers used weren’t built to allow easy data onboarding.

This is no longer the case. Data is everywhere in our digital world. From social networks to in-store customer relationship-management platforms and demographics data from vendors, data is cheaper and more applicable than ever before. And a wealth of new platforms allows for easy data onboarding and analysis. It is not hyperbole to state that virtually any brand of any size can now enjoy quick access to audience data.

We also have to consider that much of modern advertising’s approach has been informed by our TV heritage. Identifying a broadly relevant audience and investing heavily to reach that audience was the primary tactic for TV advertisers because it’s essentially the only option possible for the medium as it exists today. Without the digital connection, the data necessary to finding or targeting a subaudience simply isn’t possible.

But in the end, the biggest gating factor to finding and targeting your perfect audience is an unwillingness to go outside your comfort level. When something is “working,” it can be incredibly hard to stand up in a meeting and say, “We can do this better.”

But new technologies are creating new consumer behaviors on a daily basis. If you’re not challenging your assumptions about your customers and target demographics, you’re treating dynamic groups of people as if they were static numbers on a spreadsheet. This cannot be our default approach in a world where consumers increasingly expect their needs and desires to be understood at all times.

Follow Eyeview (@EyeviewDigital) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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